Ludicrous Australian gun law

This is so hilarious that I am putting up below the complete story of what an Australian justice system did about a serious criminal who was found in possession of an illegal handgun. Not only did he get zero jail time but they found it hard to decide whether they should take his gun off him or not!

A Hell's Angel bikie, a key figure in a bloody street shootout which left three rival gang members dead, has been given a suspended jail sentence after being caught with a loaded high-powered pistol. In the District Court on Monday, George Petropoulos, 40, was handed a five-month suspended sentence by Judge Andrea Simpson. He had pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing the 9mm semi-automatic Glock pistol, which was found concealed in the dashboard of the car he was driving. The maximum penalty for the offence is a seven-year jail term or a $35,000 fine.

The sentence has outraged rank-and-file officers involved in policing bikies. They believe their efforts are not being supported by the court system. "It's disappointing to say the least," a senior detective said. "What is the point of catching these guys with weapons like this if they are not going to be penalised? "This wasn't a .22 rifle – it was a damn Glock. And it's not the first time he's been charged with the same offence." The 9mm Glock pistol, which can hold up to 15 rounds in its magazine, is used extensively worldwide by the military and police, including SA's STAR Group.

The Major Crime Investigation Section case against Petropoulos and two other Hells Angels bikies over the murder of three Rebels members in Wright St, city, in October 1999 is still open. Petropoulos was charged with the latest offence after the Mazda RX7 he was driving was pulled over and searched by police on Bartels Rd in the city at 5am on May 3 last year. The Glock was found when a detective removed a panel in which a speaker was installed under the glovebox. The loaded handgun was wedged behind the dashboard bracing. Forensic tests revealed Petropoulos had been handling it, with his DNA found on the trigger and the guard.

His lawyer, David Edwardson, told the District Court in sentencing submissions last month Petropoulos was not aware the gun was hidden in the car until it was found by police. He said Petropoulos had lent the car to a friend, who also owned the gun, the day before. Mr Edwardson told the court Petropoulos had also handled the gun the same day.

Police records indicated the handgun was registered to a friend of Petropoulos – a Hells Angels associate member – but his licence for it had expired just over a year earlier. When police questioned the friend he told them he had handed the handgun in to police at the Netley station several months after his licence expired. "That was obviously wrong," Mr Edwardson told the court. [The police clowns did not know!] Shortly after Petropoulos was charged, police searched a Mercedes owned by the friend and found a 12mm handgun, silencer and ammunition in a black case under the front seat. The friend was fined $9301 in Whyalla Magistrates Court last August after being convicted of seven charges relating to the incident.

While prosecutor Jane Abbey did not oppose a suspended sentence for Petropoulos in his case, she did request the Glock pistol be forfeited. "Mr Petropoulos is a known member of a motorcycle club and so it's considered important that the order be made," Ms Abbey said. She said his membership of a motorcycle club was not relevant in sentencing, but relevant in the gun forfeiture. "What I say is it shows Your Honour something of the circumstances of which the gun would be in were it to be returned and not forfeited to the Crown," Ms Abbey said. Judge Simpson asked if the gun would be returned to Petropoulos's friend if it were not forfeited, to which Ms Abbey replied: "Yes." Judge Simpson asked Ms Abbey if she was suggesting the associate was also a gang member, to which Ms Abbey replied: "Yes, that they both are, yes."

Sentencing Petropoulos on Monday, Judge Simpson said he had a conviction recorded in June 1995 for the same offence, but "otherwise, you have no relevant prior criminal offending". "A sentence of imprisonment is the only penalty that is appropriate," she said. "I impose a sentence of five months in prison. But for your plea of guilty, it would have been a term of six months in prison." "Having regard to the fact that the one previous conviction for similar offending was recorded over 10 years ago . . . it is appropriate to suspend the sentence on your entering into a bond with a condition that you are of good behaviour, that is, you do not break the law for a period of 12 months . . ." Judge Simpson ordered the Glock be forfeited and Petropoulos be disqualified from holding a firearms licence for a year.

In October 1999, Petropoulos and fellow Hells Angels members Faoud "Fred" Chaptini and Peter John Threadgold were each charged with three counts of murder. The charges followed a shootout in Wright St in the city in which three members of the Rebels – Graham Nixon, 33, Sinibaldo Palombi, 35, and Hubert Weston, 32, were killed. Threadgold was arrested just hours after the October 8 shootings while Chaptini and Petropoulos fled. Arrest warrants for three counts of murder and two of attempted murder were subsequently taken out against them. Murder charges against the trio were dropped in Adelaide Magistrates Court in June 2000, after the case against them collapsed when members of the Rebels refused to give evidence.

Premier Mike Rann declined to comment, other than to say he would ask Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to get advice on the matter from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.



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