AN “ARSENAL” of high-powered weapons was among items seized during a police raid in Bungaree, carried out as part of a police operation targeting illegal fireworks, a court has heard.
Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday heard that Luke Webster’s parents didn’t even know about the stockpile of black market weapons he had stored in a secret compartment in a shed on their rural property.
The 27-year-old was supported in court by his family and girlfriend yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to 15 weapons-related charges.
The court heard police executed a search warrant at the Websters’ Bungaree property on July 24 as part of Operation Pimpinell.
Using an explosives detection dog, investigators located the secret compartment underneath a workbench in a machinery shed.
Inside they found nine illegal guns including a pump-action shotgun, a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle with Bushnell scope and LED torch, a bolt-action rifle and a .44 calibre revolving carbine rifle.
Three of the weapons had been reported stolen in burglaries and several were unregistered.
Police also found a box containing ammunition, a silencer and a hunting knife.
Webster, who has prior convictions for weapons-related offences, has never held a gun licence.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Michelle Kilburn said denunciation was the court’s primary concern.
“These are black market firearms that are being stockpiled, and a clear message needs to be sent,” she said.
Defence lawyer David Tamanika struggled to explain where the weapons came from but said his client was “a person who likes to use guns in the context of rural activity”.
Magistrate Peter Couzens disputed the explanation.
“It beggars belief that these firearms were accumulated to eradicate vermin,” Mr Couzens said. “Some of the weapons are weapons that would blow common vermin on the farm apart, they are so powerful.”
Mr Couzens said the weapons haul “could only be described as an arsenal”.
Sentencing was adjourned until today and Webster’s bail was extended.