Two friends who painted toy guns black to make them look more realistic and pointed them at passing motorists as a joke escaped serious punishment when they were sentenced today.
Tristhan Bruce-Powers, 18, and Samuel Frederik Merema, 22, pleaded guilty in Midland Magistrate’s Court to charges of going armed in a way that may cause fear and were sentenced to nine-month conditional release orders. Both men were also granted spent convictions.
Police prosecutor Sgt Phil Milne said one of the men bought the toy Nerf guns with a Christmas voucher. He said the pair was travelling along Roe Highway on their way to holiday with a group of friends on Boxing Day night when they pointed the guns at other drivers who thought the toy guns were real and called police.
About three or four police cars were sent to arrest the men. When they stopped the car in Forrestfield, police found three Nerf guns, two of which were painted black, and boxes of ammunition.
The men’s lawyer Del Zimmerman told the court they thought they were just having some holiday fun, but disagreed with police that they had aimed the Nerf guns outside the car and were just pointing it at each other inside the vehicle. She said the men were “scared to death” when they were pulled over and handcuffed by police and they would never do anything else like this again.
Sgt Milne said the other motorists were equally terrified by the men’s “stupid prank” and “hijinks”.
The men told Magistrate Robert Young they were just “mucking around” and thought it would be fun to paint the guns, but the last thing they wanted to do was to frighten anybody.
Mr Young said Nerf guns were more appropriate for the under 10 market, not for people aged 18 or over. But he said it was impossible to ignore the men’s intention was to have a bit of a joke, which had obviously backfired on them. He said the men’s “fatal error” was painting the guns black to give them the appearance from a distance of being genuine firearms.
The men’s conditional release orders means if they get into trouble with the law again, Bruce-Powers, an apprentice, will have to forfeit $1000 while Merema, a full-time store person, will have to hand over $1200.
Outside court, Sgt Milne said the men’s action had wasted police resources, but officers had to take the reports from the public seriously.
“They were just toys, but they needed the appropriate response because the fear was there in the public,” he said.
“The gravity of how the matter might be taken by others wasn’t in their heads at the time. They’ve painted up the items for a bit of fun and frivolity amongst themselves but then taken it into the public arena and members of the public just didn’t know what was going on.”
The men refused to comment outside court. Mr Young ordered that the toy guns be destroyed.