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  • Writer's pictureShaun Pascoe

Case Study: Prosecution Negotiations Result in Dropping Firearm and Theft Charges


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Charges


  1. Possess cartridge ammunition (Section 124(1) of the Firearms Act 1996); and

  2. Theft x2 (Section 74 of the Crimes Act 1958).


Both charges required the prosecution to prove all elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.


Court




Summary of Facts


The police executed a Firearm Prohibition Order compliance search on our client’s alleged associate (‘the associate’). During the search, Police located cartridge ammunition and two (2) stolen motorcycles. The combined value of the stolen motorcycles was $23,400.


The associate was not home at the time the police executed the search warrant, but was later

interviewed. He told police during the interview that our client was responsible by delivering the motorcycles to his address.


This information caused the police to arrest our client and interview him on allegations of illegally possessing ammunition, and the theft of two motorcycles.


Our client was serving sentence at the time for unrelated matters. Upon consideration of the

prosecution brief, it was apparent that the case against our client was circumstantial in that:


  • There was no direct evidence that our client actually stole the two motorcycles

  • Our client was not found in possession of the prohibited items;

  • There was no forensic evidence (fingerprints, DNA) that would establish our client’s possession of the items.

  • The complainant who was initially interviewed and told police our client delivered the items did not make a sworn statement.

  • A photograph which depicted two motorcycles in our client’s possession on a previous date, did bear a strong resemblance to the stolen motorcycles, but beyond this likeness, it could proved that the motorcycles in the photos and those found in the garage were one and the same.

  • Our client made no admissions in his police interview.


What Happened at Court?


Summary case conference negotiations occurred with the prosecution prior to the first listing of our client’s case. The circumstantial nature of the prosecution case was discussed at length with the prosecution.


The position that we conveyed to the prosecution was that there was plainly, no direct evidence that our client had at any stage taken possession of the items found in the associate’s garage, and that the circumstantial, or indirect evidence was not of sufficient weight to secure a conviction should the matter proceed to trial.


In short, the evidence contained in the brief did not establish the crucial elements of identity or possession relevant to both charges. Moreover, it was asserted that the evidence of the associate should not be regarded as reliable or compelling.


The prosecution accepted our submissions on the strength of the case and all charges were withdrawn on a without costs basis.


Court Outcome


All charges withdrawn and no costs sought as agreed.


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