Michael Steven Sandford
Michael Sandford is arrested at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas David Becker/Reuters

The mother of a man who was arrested for allegedly snatching a police officer's gun at a Donald Trump electioneering rally fears her son may commit suicide. Michael Sandford has been charged with disrupting an official function and illegal firearm possession, for which he could face up to 30 years in prison.

His mother, Lynne, told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme she thinks he may kill himself, adding that the 20-year-old has experienced mental health difficulties from a young age and has attempted suicide before. Sandford was arrested at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on 18 June and, according to court documents, told the secret service that he had driven to the rally from California to kill Trump.

Court documents also revealed that Sandiford, originally from Dorking, Surrey, was unemployed, living out of his car and in the US illegally. He had been to a gun range the day before to practise shooting and allegedly told officials that he had expected to die during the assassination, which he claimed to have been planning for a year.

His mother told the BBC that her conversations with her son had been "erratic" while he was in the US, with Sandford refusing to answer questions about his life there. She also noted that there would be times when she wouldn't hear anything from him, and then he would call her 10 times in one day.

She told Victoria Derbyshire: "He had never mentioned politics in any way in his entire life and never taken an interest in politics. Next thing I knew, on 18 June, I was woken at midnight by a call from the Foreign Office – it shocked me.

According to a spokesperson for the Foreign Office, the UK government has offered advice to the family in this case and is in touch with Sandford's legal representatives. It has also submitted a request to visit him.

Lynne Sandiford said: "They said he had been arrested. My world fell apart, I was shaking head-to-foot and burst into tears. I couldn't believe it."