Zachary Andrew Philp, 26, pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence. Picture: Facebook
Zachary Andrew Philp, 26, pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence. Picture: Facebook

‘Joke’ Snapchat pic on school shooting sparks Interpol alert

A GLENELLA man has narrowly avoided jail after an international policing organisation flagged an “inside joke” social media post as a security threat.

The Mackay Magistrates Court heard Zachary Andrew Philp, 26, posted a photo to Snapchat of his friend holding a replica gun on May 22, including the caption “Boutta be a school shooting”.

‘Boutta’ is a slang word for ‘about to’.

Police prosecutor David Epstein said police took the matter seriously and were particularly concerned about nearby primary schools in the area.

“Police attended an address in Glenella in relation to information received by Interpol, Washington DC … regarding a possible school shooting threat in the jurisdiction of Mackay,” Mr Epstein said.

“When questioned by police the defendant has made full admissions.

“He said he had no intention to offend anyone and realised it was a stupid thing to do and at the time he thought it was a funny inside joke.”

Snapchat is a photo-sharing social media app.
Snapchat is a photo-sharing social media app.

Legal Aid representative Erin Beer said Philp had intended to share the post only as a joke between friends, but accidentally made the post public.

The court heard Philp had no intention of carrying out the act.

During a search of his home, police also found two marijuana plants in Philp’s backyard and a bong.

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Ms Beer noted Philp’s lack of criminal history and guilty plea to the charge of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.

This charge carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment.

Philp also pleaded guilty to the possessing dangerous drugs charges.

“He is cooperative with police and he did make full admissions,” Ms Beer said.

“He has certainly learnt his lesson and it was in poor taste.”

The Mackay Courthouse.
The Mackay Courthouse.

Magistrate Damien Dwyer described the incident as “absolutely childish, stupid and dangerous”.

“I’m considering imprisonment,” Mr Dwyer said.

“There’s no way in the world I’ll ever find (school shootings) to be trivial.

“I cannot think of a more stupid thing for anybody to do.”

Philp was fined $2500 for using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, with a conviction recorded.

He was placed on a $450 good behaviour bond for the drug matters and ordered to attend a drug education session.

No conviction was recorded.

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