7 June 2024

Masked gunman handed drug and alcohol treatment order for public shooting

| Claire Fenwicke
Mariusz Ergland Nurzynski

Mariusz Ergland Nurzynski has been sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Facebook.

A 60-year-old man has avoided further jail time for shooting a homemade gun at a man’s car while on a main road in Phillip.

Mariusz Ergland Nurzynski previously pleaded guilty to discharging a loaded firearm with the intention to cause a person to fear for their safety and the unauthorised manufacture of a prohibited firearm.

Nurzynski targeted his victim over the belief the man had stolen his e-bike.

The court previously heard Nurzynski approached the man while wearing a mask in the early hours of 22 August 2023.

Nurzynski ended up pointing the homemade gun at the victim’s head before shooting at his car as the man drove away.

He later told police he’d made the firearm with items he’d “picked up over the years”.

“[He] described the firearm as ‘an aluminium tube that holds the shell, with a pin that I would hit against the back of it to engage the cap so it would go bang’,” the statement of facts read.

“The offender stated he knew how to make a firearm on account of the general principles of physics and inertia.”

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During her sentencing remarks in the ACT Supreme Court, Justice Verity McWilliam noted that while the time of day meant a high number of people weren’t present, it was still in a residential area and that the shooting had occurred “without regard for public safety”.

“A single shot was fired. The projectile impacted the front passenger’s side door, with the victim sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle,” Justice McWilliam said.

“While the conduct itself is serious, this instance falls at the lower end of conduct falling within the offence.”

Nurzynski’s remorse was expressed to the court, as he admitted that attempting to carry out justice himself was “wrong” and that he had regret and shame for his actions, including for being a “burden on the system”.

But Justice McWilliam said he still had a way to go in terms of “insight”.

“[That’s because] he has maintained he was justified in discharging the firearm because the victim was attempting to run him over as he walked away from the situation,” she said.

“However, the offender has expressed (both on oath and in writing) unconditional remorse and regret for his actions, including the desire, at the age of 60, to leave his past life of drugs and crime behind and start anew as a contributing member of the community.”

Nurzynski’s legal team had originally argued for an intensive corrections order – which he had been assessed as suitable for – but Justice McWilliam had also wanted him assessed for suitability to receive a drug and alcohol treatment order.

He was ultimately assessed as being suitable for this as well.

“I am satisfied … that his offending is in part a result of a dependency on drugs and alcohol and that this has substantially contributed not only to the commission of the offence but to the history of offending, in terms of poor decision-making and an inability to regulate his conduct,” Justice McWilliam said.

“Given the offender’s current attitude and willingness to finally kick what has been a life-long illness and struggle … I am firmly of the view that a targeted intervention program, which includes wrap-around support services to deal with other issues that the offender may be facing, is the best protection that may be given to the community in respect of this particular offender.”

Justice McWilliam said this was appropriate because Nurzynski had already spent 288 days in custody and that society shouldn’t “give up on any person who is seeking to improve their lot in life”.

“This is a man for whom sending him back to prison will achieve nothing,” she said.

“Given the time he has already served, a more interventionist approach is now appropriate going forward, with long-term rehabilitation being the goal.”

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Justice McWilliam ultimately sentenced Nurzynski to 13 months in prison for making the gun, which was suspended after seven months with time served.

He was sentenced to a further 18 months for firing the gun, which was then immediately suspended for an 18-month drug and alcohol treatment order.

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