Vigilante mate with replica gun avoids jail time

An Illawarra man who broke into a home and threatened the occupants with a replica gun under the belief they had stolen his friend's car has avoided jail.

Jason Wade Roff, 44, was handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence in a District Court sitting in Sutherland on Tuesday after Judge Paul Conlon accepted Roff's actions were grossly out of character.

The court heard Roff had been contacted by his friend, James Collins, on the morning of December 12, 2012, after Collins discovered his car and $12,000 worth of tools had been stolen overnight.

It was the second time Collins's car had been stolen in a short period; the first incident nearly sent him bankrupt.

During the conversation Collins told Roff an acquaintance told him he'd seen a man from the neighbourhood going out at night recently wearing a black balaclava and with a backpack, prompting Collins to believe that he was responsible for stealing his car.

Collins and Roff then went to the man's house and forced their way inside, proceeding to assault him while repeatedly demanding he return the car and the tools.

The man denied any knowledge of the theft.

Roff pulled out a replica gun at one stage during the incident and pointed it at the victim's head, threatening to kill him if he didn't return the goods.

The pair then left the house.

The court heard Roff told a treating psychologist that he'd found the toy gun on the floor of the car the two men had borrowed to get to the victim's house.

Judge Conlon accepted that Roff "lost his self control" upon entering the home that afternoon.

"It's a very serious offence, albeit one where motivation would provide some mitigation," he said.

"I accept that the effects of the loss of the tools had a significant effect on [Collins's] work. Owing to the close relationship between [both families] they would have been aware of the situation Collins found himself in as a result of the thefts."

In handing down the suspended sentence, Judge Conlon noted Roff had a very limited criminal record and was otherwise a person of good character.

Collins was sentenced last month, and also had his prison time suspended.