A man who had been dealing drugs to fund a funeral only had a 3D-printed pistol for 18 days before he left it in his car when dropping it off for a service, leaving it behind to be discovered by a mechanic.
On 2 March 2023, Jason Pakalani Tuiono booked into the Belconnen business to have his BMW’s tyres and brakes replaced. He told staff he wanted the work done quickly as he had to get to Sydney that afternoon, court documents say.
When a mechanic entered the car, he reached under the driver’s seat to try to move it forward. But instead of grabbing a lever, he realised he’d taken hold of the metal barrel of a firearm.
Police waited for Tuiono to return to pick up his car, then arrested him, discovering he also had a bag that contained methylamphetamine, about $2500 cash, a poker machine receipt for about $2000 and a .22 calibre hollow point round of ammunition.
About 83 grams of meth, around 13 times the trafficable amount, was found in the car along with another .22 calibre round near the gearstick.
When the officers examined Tuiono’s mobile phone, they saw photos of him holding bags that contained a white crystalline substance, weighing bags on a set of scales and holding bundles of money.
Also, he had messaged a man on 17 February 2023 to say, “Hey my bro. You know the thing I bought off you. You need to clock it forward every time you wanna use it aye?”
Police said the “thing” referred to the 3D-printed pistol.
Tuiono, who had been on parole from NSW at the time of his arrest, spent about six months in custody in the ACT before appearing for a sentencing hearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (28 August).
Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna argued he was a street-level dealer and his motivation for the dealing was purely financial gain.
He had told his psychologist that he needed to finance the funeral and burial of a family member.
Mr Bargwanna also said that as Tuiono, who has a lengthy criminal history, had been on parole at the time of committing these offences, he would eventually have to return to NSW to serve the remainder of his sentence in that state, which was about two years.
Defence barrister Tahn O’Rourke said he had only bought the pistol about 18 days before his arrest and experts had found it was unable to be discharged for a significant period.
Tuiono pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, unauthorised possession of a firearm and possessing ammunition.
Justice Louise Taylor said she would aim to sentence the 34-year-old in early September.