A HELENSBURGH man tried to import two Taser-style weapons from Vietnam in a bid to emulate a video he’d seen on YouTube.

Ross Malcolm bought the illegal items as part of an online order which also included a musical toilet seat, a court heard.

But the 25-year-old was spared a prison sentence despite a sheriff’s reaction that the explanation “stretches credulity”.

Malcolm, of Old Luss Road, was sentenced at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on March 14.

He had previously admitted a charge of “being concerned in an attempt at evasion of the prohibition on importation of goods under the Firearms Act”.

Malcolm pleaded guilty on February 12 to trying to import the items from south-east Asia, in breach of the Customs and Excise Management Act, and sentence was deferred until last week for a background social work report.

READ MORE: Helensburgh man caught trying to import illegal 'Taser-style' weapons from Vietnam

His solicitor, Brian Greig, told last Thursday's hearing: “The reason he stands here today can be traced back to early last year when he watched, on YouTube, a man in a bar applying an electric shock to himself with a Taser device to the amusement of others.

“He decided to mimic what he had seen in the video by going online and buying the items referred to in the charge.”

Sheriff Maxwell Hendry said: “That stretches credulity. But what’s the need for two of them?”

Mr Greig said the second weapon was meant for another person, and referred to Malcolm and the other intended user as “two equally foolish individuals”.

Sheriff Hendry pointed to a section of the social work report in which Malcolm was said to have been unaware the items were illegal – something which the sheriff said “stretches credulity – again”.

Mr Greig said: “From a number of conversations I have had with him, he has always accepted that to bring these items in was not legal.

"But he never appreciated the gravity of what he was doing. He had no intention of harming others.”

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The sheriff replied: “That may have been his intention, but what he did introduces these weapons into our society.

“If these items get through the detection system, they are here to be used by him or others, to be lost, or to be stolen by others.”

Mr Greig continued: “It was juvenile and immature thinking. There was no deception and no subterfuge.

“He ordered these items for a few pounds and pence on a gadget-type website. Also on the order was a string of LED lights and a toilet seat that played music.

“He made the order in his own name, paid through his own bank account, and had the items delivered to his home address.

“He told police he had ordered the items and offered the devices to them. He has co-operated fully with the authorities.

“The Crown was initially not willing to accept at face value his assertions about his intentions. The Crown carried out their own enquiries and only after those were completed were they prepared to accept that they were not required to prosecute Mr Malcolm under firearms legislation.”

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Sheriff Hendry told Malcolm: “Your decision-making, if that is the appropriate way of describing it, was grossly stupid. It was also criminal activity.

“You are not very far away from finding yourself facing a minimum five-year prison term by being prosecuted under firearms legislation.

“You escape that by a narrow margin, and you escape, also by a narrow margin, imprisonment today.”

Instead Malcolm was placed under social workers’ supervision for 18 months as part of a community payback order, and was told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work - reduced from the maximum of 300 because of his guilty plea – within six months.

Sheriff Hendry warned him: “If you breach the order, and the breach is admitted or proved, I will be turning my mind very directly towards sending you to prison.”