A PRANKSTER terrorised shop staff by donning an Osama Bin Laden mask and waving a cardboard gun – on the same day it emerged the Al Queda leader had been gunned down by Navy Seals.
But Stefan Diamond’s idea of a joke backfired spectacularly after he received a criminal record and narrowly avoided a possible jail term.
The 21-year-old appeared at Haddington Sheriff Court today (Wed) for sentencing after earlier pleading guilty to conducting himself in a disorderly manner, pointing an item resembling a gun at staff while his face was concealed, placing staff in a state of fear and alarm and commiting a breach of the peace.
Diamond, from Dunbar, committed his
“immature’ prank at the Co-op in the town’s High Street on May 3.
Fiscal Alison Innes told the court:
“It was around 8.30 in the evening when the store supervisor and an assistant were on duty as they noticed someone come into the shop and look at them and he was wearing the facemask depicting Osama Bin Laden.
“He appeared to be wearing a white robe and carrying what looked like a gun. He pointed it at them and then walked out the store. They were both alarmed by this but the supervisor he followed him and noticed him walk into a block of flats and take the mask off and he recognized the accused. The police attended. They found the accused in the flats across the road and he admitted that he had been in the shop earlier dressed as Bin Laden.
“He said that he didn’t mean to offend anybody. “
Diamond’s solicitor, Andrew Mellor, said:
“He didn’t actually go past the entrance to the store. The whole incident was very momentary.
“It was on the day that Osama Bin Laden had been reported to be killed and there was a number of jokes. “
Mr Mellor said the accused had taken his joke
“It was very much misjudged as he hadn’t thought it through properly but now he has accepted that he did cause alarm. I think it has been a learning experience for him. “
Sheriff Peter Braid said the incident had caused alarm, adding:
“It does seem that the offence arose out of stupidity and immaturity.
“Because of your motives and because you have spent three weeks on remand it does seem the best way to deal with this is by a community payback order. “
Diamond will have to serve 100 hours.
He warned Diamond:
“If a breach is alleged then you may need to come to court or there could be a warrant for arrest and the breach would lead to custody. “
After the hearing, Diamond said he had played the trick in several shops that day and claimed everyone had found it funny.
He said: “I was out in Dunbar with a few of my mates. We were in and out of shops with the mask on and went into a taxi and they all found it hilarious.
“I even went into a shop and bought Irn-Bru and a paper with Osama Bin Laden on the front and they thought it was hilarious. They thought it was the best thing they had seen in a while. “
“My mum thought it was hilarious until she found out I was in the papers and had to go to jail for it.
“I’d like to see them do this at Halloween.”
An earlier hearing was told that Diamond had received the mask from a friend and, after showing it to his brother, was “encouraged to go to the local shop” where he “thought he would play a joke.”
During the earlier hearing, Alison Innes, procurator fiscal depute, held up the cardboard gun, which she described as “pretty pathetic”.
It had ‘property of Osama Bin Laden’ written on the back. The textured rubber mask was “pretty lifelike”. the court heard.
Diamond appeared today from custody today after failing to appear at a previous hearing claiming he could not afford his bus fare.
After Diamond was arrested for his non-appearance and taken to court, Sheriff Braid refused bail, telling him he was facing
“a serious charge which may result in a custodial sentence”.
At the Ah Ha Ha Ha fancy dress store in Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Bin Laden masks similar to the one worn by Diamond are selling for 12.95
A member of staff said: “After Bin Laden was eliminated there’s been a drop in the sales of them. We don’t seem to be selling as many as we were.
“I don’t really know why people buy them, maybe it’s just kids who think it’s funny to be a bit naughty. But I think it’s in really bad taste.”