‘Shock and fear’: cop recalls threat over film spoiler
Samantha Lock |
A police officer who had a firearm held to his head by a colleague for threatening to spoil the latest Top Gun blockbuster says he has completely lost trust in the force.
Constable Dominic Gaynor was ordered to perform community service after admitting to pointing his gun at his junior colleague, Morgan Royston, and threatening to shoot him at a Sydney police station in May 2022.
A magistrate on Thursday said he was unconvinced the 30-year-old was sorry for his actions, which the victim said left him afraid and anxious.
Gaynor was on duty behind the front desk of Day St police station in Chinatown when then-probationary constable Royston began discussing Top Gun: Maverick, which he had seen the night before.
The older officer told him not to ruin the movie, to which Mr Royston replied: “I’ll spoil it for you.”
According to court documents, Gaynor responded: “Don’t spoil the movie, c***.”
Gaynor then threatened to shoot Mr Royston before laughing and taking his Glock out of its holster.
He pointed the weapon towards the other officer for around five seconds without his finger on the trigger.
Mr Royston, who has since left NSW Police, said the incident forever changed his life and made him lose all trust and admiration he once held for the state’s police force.
“My shift (that day) was initially unremarkable,” he told a sentencing hearing for Gaynor at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.
“I had no idea that the course of my life was about to change forever.
“Suddenly I was staring down the front of a loaded police pistol.”
The former officer said he will never forget the “overwhelming shock and fear” he felt as a gun was pointed at his head.
Mr Royston described the months of anxiety and hyper-vigilance that followed, falling into a deep depression and having regular nightmares of being shot and killed.
He said he was torn between reporting the incident and “a desire not to break the police brotherhood of dobbing on another colleague”.
According to a tendered police statement, Mr Royston froze and didn’t know what to do before he reported the incident to a supervising officer around a week later.
“I completely lost the trust and admiration I had for the NSW Police force,” Mr Royston told the court.
“I thought I would be safe around my trained colleagues … it’s put the permanent fear of harm into my mind.”
According to the NSW Police handbook, which Gaynor accepted he was aware of, police should treat all firearms as if they are loaded and be conscious of where the muzzle is pointed at all times.
He pleaded guilty to carrying a firearm with disregard for the safety of himself or others.
Several other charges against him were dropped, including a charge of common assault and two counts of stalking or intimidating.
Lawyer Chris Micali conceded Gaynor misused his weapon but said he was otherwise a “fantastic” member of the force.
“This is a remorseful man who made a grievous error that will cost him dearly,” he said.
Magistrate Michael Maher said Gaynor displayed “clearly dangerous reckless judgment” and noted his position as a police officer was “in peril” due to his actions.
While he acknowledged the suspended officer had taken responsibility for his actions, he remained unconvinced as to his remorse.
“I am somewhat guarded as to his understanding of the true impact that he’s had to his colleague,” he said in sentencing Gaynor.
He convicted Gaynor, and handed him a two-year community correction order and 100 hours of community service.
Mr Maher added he was confused why the victim was allowed to continue to work alongside Gaynor in the same police station after the offence.
“The impact on the victim looms large,” he said.AAP