Minimum sentence for ‘fake gun’ fear-mongering
A KINGAROY man has been sentenced to a six month probationary period after facing a number of charges before Kingaroy Magistrates Court today, including waving a fake gun at Memorial Park last month.
Reagan Whitfield, 40, pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including:
- One count assault police officer
- One count contravene direction or requirement of police officer
- One count obstruct police officer
- One count going armed so as to cause fear
- Three counts breach of bail condition
According to Police Prosecutor Sgt Pepe Gangemi, on July 7 at 2.15pm, several concerned citizens made triple-0 calls in regards to a man waving a ‘gun’ around at Memorial Park. It was later confirmed the weapon was a gel blaster hand gun.
“He told police that most people go to the bar and have a beer to unwind, I like to shoot my gun around to unwind,” said Sgt Gangemi.
While the gun posed no real threat to park-goers, Sgt Gangemi said “there’s simply no way to identify them as toys.”
“If we have people who are going to wave gel blaster toys around, then the response from police is going to be as if it were a real weapon.”
“Until it is identified otherwise, then the risk to community, and risk to the defendant, is extremely high.”
Other charges relate to an incident on May 11, where police were called to Kingaroy hospital after Whitfield refused to leave the premises. Despite being asked to leave several times by hospital staff and police, he remained on the waiting room couch.
According to Sgt Gangemi, Whitfield had to be physically lifted and removed from the hospital by police.
Whitfield continued to struggle as police attempted to force him into the car, and as a result, kicked an officer in the neck.
“His behaviour has been abhorrent and really childlike,” Sgt Gangemi said.
Defence lawyer Thomas Carr told the court that Whitfield suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and ‘didn’t think about whether it (the gel blaster) would scare people.’
“He was merely testing the gel blaster with his hand out the window shooting it at the ground.”
Mr Carr said anyone else would be able to test the toy in the privacy of their own home, however, Whitfield is currently homeless.
Regarding the charges at the hospital, Whitfield was ‘having an episode’ and was afraid that he was going to pass away. When discharged from the hospital, he refused to leave out of fear his symptoms would worsen.
In recognition of the seriousness of Borderline Personality Disorder, Magistrate Andrew Sinclair said “I’ll place the maximum weight here on rehabilitating you rather than general deterrence, which is not appropriate for a person with a condition relevant to the offence.”
Whitfield has been given a minimum probationary order of six months for the charges of going armed, assault, obstructing police, and breaching bail. For the contravene direction or requirement of a police officer, he is convicted and not further punished.