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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK

UK: Scotland

Detention for gun prank teenager

A sheriff in Dundee ordered the teenager's detention

A teenager has been sent to a young offenders' institution for firing a toy machine gun at children and teachers at his old school.

Gavin Blues, 18, who had called at the school to collect his sister, said the actions were intended as a joke.

But a sheriff told him that in the aftermath of the Dunblane Primary School massacre and shooting incidents at schools in the US he had no choice but to impose a custodial sentence.

[ image: A rector feared a repeat of Dunblane]
A rector feared a repeat of Dunblane
Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Blues, of Mains Drive in the city, pretended to fire bullets across the playground as staff and children left the school after classes.

Blues, 18, who had been expelled from Morgan Academy, had called to meet his young sister and was handed a plastic gun by another pupil in the playground.

He said he pointed the gun in the direction of teachers and pupils and pulled the trigger as a joke.

But assistant rector Susan Ruark, 47, said terrifying thoughts ran through her mind when she heard the noise generated by the toy gun.

Mrs Ruark said the teenager's actions were foolish in the light of the Dunblane Primary School massacre when 16 children and their teacher were shot dead by gunman Thomas Hamilton in March 1996.

It was only when she noticed that there was no smoke rising from the imitation gun that she realised the children were safe.

Wide arc

Mrs Ruark said Blues motioned as if to shoot pupils in a wide arc across the playground, spinning with the gun at his hip. He then slung the gun over his shoulder as he turned to leave.

She said, "There was the sound of firing, there was a metallic hollow sound.

"I thought, 'He's going to hit the children before he hits me'."

Mrs Ruark later told the court: "After Dunblane, no-one should have a gun near a school: it would be very stupid.

Blues, who had been banned from the Dundee school two years beforehand after being suspended for the 7th time, spun round and pressed the trigger again as he fled from the playground, the court heard..

After hearing the evidence from Mrs Ruark at a hearing earlier this month, he changed his plea to guilty and was remanded in custody.

Disorderly manner

He pleaded guilty to conducting himself in a disorderly manner, brandishing an imitation firearm, placing people in a state of fear and alarm and committing a breach of the peace at the school in Forfar Road, Dundee, on 28 August last year.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Iain Smith told Blues: "Going to a school with what appeared to be a machine gun and pretending to fire at a teacher and pupils must have been a terrifying experience, especially for Mrs Ruark.

"It does not need me to remind people of what happened at a school a short distance away from here three years ago and elsewhere in the world. Such behaviour must not be tolerated."

He added that he could find no alternative to a custodial sentence, despite the fact that Blues had never been to prison before.

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