Man jailed for firing AK47 replica BB gun

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A man has been jailed after firing plastic BB pellets at the Omni Centre from Calton Hill with an imitation AK47.

A Police Armed Response Unit was deployed to Calton Hill in Edinburgh city centre following reports that a man, armed with what appeared to be an AK47 rifle, was firing at the Omni Leisure Centre in Greenside Row.

When the officers arrived, the sniper was ordered to lay down his weapon and move away from it, which he did. He was immediately handcuffed and the police found that the weapon was a replica and the rounds were plastic BB pellets.

At the city’s Sheriff Court, 27-year old Michael Jiricek, a prisoner in Saughton, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to being in possession of the imitation AK47 and pellets, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse and to committing a breach of the peace on February 9 this year.

Fiscal Depute, Karon Rollo, said members of the public were alarmed when they saw a man, with a long barrelled gun, pointing the weapon in the direction of the leisure complex. “He was observed adopting a military type stance, whilst taking aim” said Ms Rollo. “They described his behaviour as menacing and like something from a war film”.

The Fiscal added that, as Armed Response officers approached, they saw Jiricek crouched, firing, and heard a “popping” noise. Ms Rollo said the weapon turned out to be a one-to-one scale, soft-air spring powered AK47. There were five bags of plastic BB pellets.

Defence solicitor, Jim Stephenson, told Sheriff Isabella McColl that his client had come to Scotland from the Czech Repubic in 2012 hoping to get employment, but had been unable to get a job because he had no English. He had been sleeping rough in the Calton Hill area.

Sheriff McColl told Jiricek it was not surprising that members of the public and police had reacted in the way they had. The weapon looked exactly like a real rifle. She also pointed out that he had a previous conviction for a similar offence “not so long ago”. The Sheriff said her starting point for a jail sentence would have been 16 months, but she would reduce that to 12 months because of his guilty plea.

On July 13 last year, Jiiricek was arrested on an offensive weapons’ charge for firing a crossbow near the Dean Bridge in the city. He had been sleeping rough under the bridge at the time. He was jailed for six months for that offence on September 24.