12 September 2023

Robber had 3D-printed gun, found in car during service, because it was 'dangerous' to sell drugs

| Albert McKnight
police photos of car and gun

Jason Pakalani Tuiono’s 3D-printed pistol was found in this BMW after it was taken in for a service earlier this year. Photos: ACT Policing.

The meth dealer who left his loaded 3D-printed pistol in his car after booking it in for a service, where it was discovered by a mechanic, had the gun because he was afraid of being robbed.

However, it has also been revealed that at the time of this incident, Jason Pakalani Tuiono had been on parole after already being handed a lengthy jail sentence for committing a robbery in NSW.

The 34-year-old appeared in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (11 September) where he was sentenced to a total of 19 months jail with a one-year non-parole period over drug and firearm-related offences.

Justice Louise Taylor said he was motivated by financial gain, by coming to Canberra from Sydney to sell drugs and “make some fast money”.

When explaining why he committed the offences, he said he’d missed his father’s funeral because he’d been in jail and he wanted to pay for funeral costs, which came to about $13,000, so turned to selling drugs.

“He also stated that the possession of the gun was due to his fear of being robbed and because it was dangerous selling drugs,” Justice Taylor said.

On 2 March 2023, Tuiono had booked into a Belconnen mechanic business to have his BMW’s tyres and brakes replaced, it has previously been reported.

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.

READ ALSO Alleged hammer-wielding man accused of five-hour siege after using ’20 bongs’

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?”

Justice Taylor said Tuiono had been using drugs at the time and had been described as a street-level dealer and user.

“In the hierarchy of a drug distribution chain, this is a role at a relatively low level,” she said.

“Nonetheless, it is an indispensable link in the chain that facilitates accessibility to methylamphetamine by individuals and cohorts of users.

“Trafficking in methylamphetamine directly facilitates the misery visited upon our communities through addiction to methylamphetamine.”

Justice Taylor said he had used meth since he was about 20 years old, while his family had given him character references that spoke of his struggles with drug use, his remorse and his desire to fix his past mistakes.

READ ALSO Lifejacket-wearing driver claims alleged handgun found in ‘manbag’ was a toy

She said he had an extensive criminal history and at the time of the incident had been on parole over a charge of robbery armed with an offensive weapon in NSW, for which he had been handed over six years’ jail.

His parole had been revoked in that state and he still has over two years’ jail left to serve on that sentence.

Tuiono, a NSW man who works in construction and concreting, pleaded guilty to and was convicted on charges of drug trafficking, unauthorised possession of a firearm and possessing ammunition.

As his sentence was backdated, he can be released on parole in the ACT in March 2024.

However, as the parole for his robbery sentence in NSW has been revoked, this means he is then expected to be returned to custody in that state.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.