A Candelo man fined $2000 and handed a 12-month good behaviour bond for storing stolen guns has told a court he did so out of fear someone may be hurt by the weapons if he didn’t have them in his safe keeping.
Walter James Jones pleaded guilty to possessing a Rossi side by side double barrel 12 gauge shotgun, a Norica .22 calibre air rifle, a Howa .270 calibre rifle and an Iver Johnson .22 calibre rifle, stored in the roof of Jones’ home after they were stolen from a Wolumla property in August.
He’s acted responsibly in handling the weapons and stored them at his residence.Jones' solicitor
In October a 19-year-old Bega man was sentenced to 12-months in prison for his role in the theft.
Court documents say 26-year-old Jones feared leaving the guns in the possession of the teen, stating he felt “someone or something would have been hurt or killed”.
In Bega Local Court on Tuesday, November 15, Jones’ solicitor acknowledged the weapons had been stolen by “another party” who had later been “acting foolishly shooting them”.
“He’s acted responsibly in handling the weapons and stored them at his residence,” Jones’ solicitor said.
In the days following the theft, the convicted teen and several others went to an area outside Candelo known as “the Common”, shooting dead a number of wombats and other native wildlife.
On one occasion, a member of the group took a Snapchat photo of the teen holding a Winchester 30-30 calibre rifle, he later hid in scrub nearby.
Magistrate Doug Dick was told the guns were “so well stored that police couldn’t find them” during the initial search of the property.
The court was told the guns were stored in the roof of the house “in a manner that wouldn’t expose a minor to those weapons”.
The court heard Jones had “been upfront and led police to the weapons” after being called to the property after the initial search, and “his intention was to give the weapons back to the owner”, with Jones’ solicitor requesting his assistance to police be taken into account during sentencing.