Dress-up 'soldiers' under fire

CALLERS to 000 reported a military invasion of Mackay Harbour with armed and camouflaged soldiers running from tree to tree under the cover of darkness.

Five police units - 10 officers - responded, fully armed and wearing bulletproof vests. They found the "soldiers" were two men going home from a fancy dress party to which they had worn army combat-style outfits and face paint while carrying plastic rifles.

The emergency occurred at 1.10am on Saturday when two women phoned police to say they were being followed by suspicious soldiers carrying guns on Ron Searle Dr.

As police rushed to the scene they were flagged down by women who were distressed and crying, prosecutor Senior Sergeant Matt Saunders told Mackay Magistrates Court yesterday.

Police were told two soldiers were in full military camouflage and were carrying large black rifles believed to be AK47s and were concealing themselves among trees and hiding along fence lines.

"Officers saw two shadowy figures seeking concealment behind trees and used an in-car loud hailer to call on them to drop their weapons and surrender," Snr Sgt Saunders said.

Police had sealed off the area.

After about 15 minutes, the two men surrendered and it was discovered that their weapons were plastic but life-like toys which could fire soft bullets.

"It was quite a serious situation, in my submission," Snr Sgt Saunders said.

Damien Gordon Davies, 24, tradesman, and David Lindsay Dorward, 24, trades assistant, pleaded guilty in court to creating a public nuisance.

Solicitor Vince Campbell, of Macrossan & Amiet, said they had been at a 21st fancy dress party and were walking along the street looking out for a mate who was coming to pick them up.

Because of the outfits, every time a car came by they would try to hide so as not to cause alarm, Mr Campbell said.

They did not realise that there were two women who were also returning home from another party walking ahead of them. "It is clear from the 000 calls which I have listened to, that some people were concerned for their own safety," Mr Campbell said.

"But what happened was not deliberate. There was no intention to create a public nuisance."

Magistrate Ross Risson told the two men: "You are both fortunate that you were not tasered, or worse.

"The police reaction under the circumstances was understandable."

Both men were placed on a $750, nine-month good behaviour bond.

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