A film industry worker’s career is in tatters after he mistakenly bought an illegal firearm with the intention of hiring it out as a prop.
Christopher Nordstrom, from the Broomhead area of Dunfermline, told police he purchased the blank-firing pistol for £500 and had it delivered by Royal Mail.
He said there were companies in England which provide such props to the industry, but no similar business exists in Scotland, and believed he had identified a gap in the market.
But Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard that the 45-year-old’s home was raided after his name appeared on a database of a dealer arrested in England.
Firearms seller suspect arrested in London
Fiscal depute Alistair McDermid told the court that in October 2019, the National Crime Agency arrested a suspect in London who had purchased and imported several blank-firing forward venting handguns from a company in Spain.
During an interview the suspect disclosed he had sold a number of weapons and that his computer contained a spreadsheet containing details of buyers, including Nordstrom, who worked as a camera support equipment technician.
Detectives visited Nordstrom’s house the next day and noted a large amount of props related to his employment and, following searches, found the blank-firing pistol and a can of pepper spray.
When interviewed by police Nordstrom confirmed he had bought the front venting Atak Arms Zoraki model 925, but believed it was legal.
In the UK imitation guns are legal if they vent from the top or side.
While legal in some parts of Europe, front venting replica weapons are outlawed in the UK as they are more easily converted by criminals to fire live rounds.
Nordstrum admitted being in possession of a gas alarm pistol and a canister of capsaicin – both prohibited weapons – at his home on October 10, 2019.
Defence solicitor Aimee Allan said Nordstrum had carried out research and believed there was a special dispensation in place for those in the TV and film industry.
He had purchased public liability insurance before buying the weapon.
She told the court: “He genuinely believed he had done all he required to purchase that weapon and did not believe it was a front venting pistol.”
Miss Allan said the consequences for her client will be “significant” and – as he is unlikely to be able to continue working in the TV and film industry – has started undertaking his HGV licence to provide for his family.
She said he will also have limited travel to Canada and the US where a lot of his family live.
The court heard previously that the American-made can of pepper spray found in his home was likely to have belonged to an ex-girlfriend and had become mixed up in his own property.
Sheriff Susan Duff told Nordstrum: “This is a very unusual case.
“I accept it was not your intention to commit any criminal offences, but you were looking for a way to expand your work within the film industry and, in error, you bought the wrong type of blank-firing weapon.”
Sheriff Duff ordered Nordstrom to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work within 12 months as part of a community payback order in relation to the illegal firearm charge.
He was admonished in respect of the second charge involving the pepper spray.