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Man avoids jail for threats made when ill

The ACT Magistrates Court.

The ACT Magistrates Court. Photo: Graham Tidy

A mentally ill man who imagined he was in a video game, brandishing a toy shotgun outside a bank in Civic and pointing it at a police car, has avoided jail time.

Jameer Huntman, 23, was delusional and suffering from a psychotic episode as he walked around with the fake shotgun in broad daylight in August last year.

Huntman stood outside the HSBC bank in Ainslie Place and aimed the replica sawn-off shotgun into the air, pumping the action. In his delusional state, he imagined his sunglasses were displaying a game score. The sunglasses told him how many enemies he had killed and how many were left.

His behaviour frightened the bank manager, who thought the shotgun was real and the bank was about to be robbed. Huntman was also observed to point the shotgun at a parked police car.

He was later seen near the Legislative Assembly in Civic Square, where a large crowd was assembled for a welcome home parade for Olympians returning from the London Olympic Games.

When police arrested Huntman, he gestured towards the gun under his clothing, saying ''it's in there''. He told officers he was ''probably due'' to take his medication and asked them why they couldn't just let him off with a warning.

Three months earlier, Huntman had approached a man withdrawing cash from an ATM in Dickson. He asked him for $2 for his friend to buy a cheeseburger, but the man replied that he only gave money to charities. Huntman showed him a piece of wire wrapped around his index finger, and said: ''I've got a shiv and I'm going to put it in you. I could take your money off you.''

The victim threatened to call the police, prompting Huntman to leave the area.

He was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court for both offences on Friday.

The court heard that Huntman, who was off his medication on both occasions, had made considerable progress in addressing his mental illness and drug problems.

He has also shown remorse for the crimes and understood how his actions may have frightened others. He was receiving positive care from the Canberra Men's Centre and ACT Mental Health, and was visited twice a day by the mobile mental health intervention team.

His lawyer told the court Huntman had threatened the man at the ATM because he ''wanted to not be the victim all the time'' and wanted to scare him, rather than take his money. The court heard his actions in Civic were directly linked to psychosis.

Magistrate Peter Morrison said Huntman's pre-sentence report had established the strongest connection between mental illness and offending that ''I've ever seen in my life''.

Mr Morrison sentenced him to a two-year good behaviour order.

■ Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 131 114; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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