A terrified man had a “gun” pointed at him in an Appleby car park at night.
While extremely drunk and high on cannabis, Joe William Forrester, 24, knocked on town doors just before 1am on June 24.
When a woman asked why, Forrester spoke of being owed money.
He was advised to pursue the debt in daylight. The woman phoned a male that Forrester was with, asking for a Broad Close car park meeting and saying he should “keep away” from Forrester.
In Facebook messages, Forrester warned he was “coming down with a blade”, adding: “I’m going to stab them. I hope they get moved on before I kill them.”
As the woman’s partner, Keegan Shaw, arrived at the car park he found Forrester didn’t have a knife.
But prosecutor Claire Brocklebank told Carlisle Crown Court: “He then walked towards Mr Shaw and took out an imitation firearm which he pointed at Mr Shaw with his arm outstretched.
“Mr Shaw was terrified. The Crown would, of course, point out from his position he wasn’t to know whether that was a weapon or not.”
It was found to be an imitation firearm, Miss Brocklebank saying: “Due to an internal fault, it was not capable of firing.”
Forrester, of Glebe Road, Appleby, admitted having it with intent to cause fear of violence.
Jeff Smith, defending, described a “moment of madness” for a defendant with no previous convictions.
“He was extremely drunk,” said Mr Smith, “and when he sobered up… he very much regretted what had taken place.” Forrester had been teetotal since the incident, reconciled with relatives and was “almost grateful” to find himself in court.
Mr Smith said: “It has allowed him to focus, to see what matters and to see there is a future. He apologises, through me, to everyone associated with the commission of this offence.”
Recorder Richard Archer concluded, by the “slimmest of margins”, he could suspend an eight-month jail term for 18 months.
Forrester must also complete a rehabilitation requirement and unpaid work.
“It is simply unknown what happens when a man in drink and under the influence of cannabis takes a firearm – imitation or otherwise – out into the street in a public place with the specific intention here of frightening another person with it, having sent out a threat – albeit to use a knife instead of a firearm,” Recorder Archer told Forrester.
“You were entirely out of control that night.”