Ten years for gunman
A father who admitted keeping a loaded handgun to protect his family has been sentenced to spend ten years behind bars.
Michael Talbot, 34, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of possessing a firearm and 78 rounds of ammunition along with a prohibited weapon, specifically a stun gun.
Prosecutor Susan Mulligan told the court that Talbot was first arrested last March in connection to an incident days prior in which a man was seen wielding a firearm at Devonshire Recreational Club. A search of his home revealed a loaded, functional firearm, a stun gun and a heat-sealed package containing 72 rounds of ammunition of various calibres.
Talbot admitted having the weapons when interviewed by police, but said he believed the package contained drugs.
During the interview he told officers that on the night of the incident, he had been at Devonshire Recreational Club when he noticed a group of men who had been harassing him enter the bar area. He stepped out to the porch to think about how he could leave the club without a confrontation and, while there, he saw a man stash a package in a stack of chairs.
He checked the package and found it contained the firearm and the heat-sealed package.
Talbot told police he tucked the gun into his pants and attempted to leave the club with the package, but was challenged by the group. As he was backing away towards his car, he said he pulled out the weapon and held it to his side, causing the group to step back and allowing him to leave.
However he later denied ever having the weapon at the club, telling Court Services he had agreed to hold both the handgun and the stun gun because he wanted to protect himself and his family.
He explained that over the past several years he and his family have repeatedly been targeted by the Parkside gang, who had attacked him and his brother, threatened his parents, broken into his home and invaded the home of a loved one wielding a firearm.
Ms Mulligan told the court there was no evidence suggesting Talbot was affiliated with any gang and lawyer Craig Attridge, representing Talbot, said the defendant had no idea why he and his family were being harassed.
Mr Attridge told the court Talbot had made up the initial story because he was under pressure to explain how he came into possession of the weapons. While Mr Attridge admitted that his client had not been honest when talking to police, he noted that Talbot quickly admitted possessing the weapons and told police where they could find the stun gun.
Talbot himself apologised to the court and his family for what he described as a stupid mistake born out of frustration and a desire to protect his family.
“I have lost everything that I have built for myself over the years,” he said. “A job that I loved, my apartment and the opportunity to see all my daughter's accomplishments.
“I hope she understands that, while I messed up, my only motive was the safety and security of my family.”
Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said that while he did not believe Talbot was unaware of the contents of the package, which he described as a “motherload” of ammunition, the fact that the gun had not been linked to any shooting incidents supported the defendant's claim that he had the weapon for protection. He said the version of events were bolstered by a statement from Talbot's father, who detailed how the family had been targeted the gang.
The judge said: “I find it a plausible story in circumstances, at least part of it.”
Mr Justice Greaves noted that the offence of possessing a firearm carries a sentence of between 12 and 17 years behind bars, but given the mitigating circumstances a sentence of ten years in prison for each of the three offences, with all sentences to be served concurrently, would be appropriate.
Immediately following the sentence the court heard that prosecutors would not be pursuing charges against Talbot's younger brother Shauntonnai Talbot, who had been charged with handling a firearm. Mr Justice Greaves discharged the younger Mr Talbot, urging him to take the opportunity to “live righteously”.