Man jailed over toy gun "prank"

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By Michael MacLeod

A MAN who pointed a toy gun at his tagging officer has been jailed for six months.

Serco employee John Baxter was trying to fix broken house arrest equipment when Iain Turnbull, 49, held the plastic pistol to his head.

Turnbull claimed Mr Baxter had been to his house so many times to check his tag detector that he considered him a friend and pulled the gun as a joke.

Although Mr Baxter carried on with his paperwork before leaving, police were called in after he told his boss about the pretend pistol.

A sheriff  told Turnbull he had been “monumentally stupid” after he conceded the prank was in “poor taste.”

Turnbull had been released early from prison for public order offences and had 14 days left on licence with a tag around his ankle.

Fiscal depute John Kirk told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that the pair had been chatting “amicably” in Turnbull’s house in Ritchie Place, Edinburgh.

He said: “Mr Baxter was at Turnbull’s flat to attend to a problem with his tag.

“During the visit they were chatting and everything seemed to be going quite amicably.

“He was filling in paperwork on his clipboard and looked up and Turnbull was pointing what appeared to be a handgun directly at his head.

“He knocked it out of his hand and told him not to be so stupid.”

Turnbull then backed off, telling Mr Baxter it was a fake gun and let him carry on with his work.

His defence agent Chris Fehily said: “He had been in for numerous public order offences and had exhausted the patience of another sheriff.

“This was an act of breathtaking stupidity.

“He had grown to know Mr Baxter fairly well through his numerous visits and considered him as something of a friend.

“But it was a joke of remarkably poor taste.

“The complainer did not run from the property or anything like that.

“He completed his paperwork and then told his employers what had happened.

“He apologises to Mr Baxter for any alarm caused.”

A ballistics report showed the gun was fake and not in working order.

Sheriff Deirdre MacNeill QC told him: “This is a monumentally stupid thing to do and I’m going to impose a custodial sentence of six months.”

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