Gun collector argues in court about military firearm

Rae Wilson

A CABOOLTURE gun collector has tried to argue the M16 self-loading military firearm part he imported into Australia complied with customs regulations.

Timothy Ian Charles Powell said he had posted an advertisement seeking a "demilled" section of a lower receiver to suit a M16 or AR15 rifle and believed the piece he got was permanently destroyed.

But a ballistics expert, who identified the imported item as a damaged M16 lower receiver, says the gun could be repaired and become fully functional using a welder.

The Court of Appeal found that if customs prohibitions were interpreted to mean "whole" weapons, then "the provision could easily be circumvented by cutting a receiver into parts and reassembling it after importation".

A magistrate initially threw the case out when Powell first went to court but a district court judge found he had a case to answer on appeal.

When the case returned to the magistrates court, Powell tried to argue welding two parts together did not replicate what would be required to repair the gun which could not be restored to working condition.

But the magistrate found the expert's evidence credible - that the imported item was a firearm - and the district court later dismissed Powell's appeal.

The Court of Appeal refused to hear a further appeal on grounds there was a miscarriage of justice and misinterpretation of the Customs Act.

Justice James Henry, in a judgment handed down this week, said the Court of Appeal was not a forum to litigate cases afresh in a different manner from an unsuccessful first attempt.

He said he could find no reasoning error from the district court judge, nor any miscarriage of justice.

"There was nothing in what this court was shown which would compel the conclusion that the item was no part of a genuine receiver, as distinct from a replica, or raise a reasonable doubt about (the ballistic expert's evidence)," he said.

Topics:  court expert firearm military

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