Man found with stolen guns jailed

A MAN found with stolen guns in the boot of his car has been sentenced to a minimum jail term of 11 months.

Ryan Ridley, 37, pleaded guilty to a string of charges in the Mildura Magistrates’ Court yesterday, including five counts of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, handling stolen goods and possession of methamphetamine.

The court heard Ridley claimed he was given the guns by “a young lad” who asked him to get rid of them.

Police found the guns in the boot of Ridley’s car when they searched it in the early hours of August 12.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Matt Pardon said Ridley’s car was parked out the front of an Irymple house where a man with known drug and outlaw motorcycle gang associations lived.

A search of the unoccupied car uncovered four stolen rifles wrapped in a blanket in the boot and another shotgun, of unknown origins, in the vehicle.

The stolen guns were taken from a Mildura house between August 3 and August 6.

Ridley fled on foot over a back fence and police arrested him at a later date.

At first he told police he had sold his car and had not driven it but changed his story after CCTV footage from a nearby service station showed him driving about an hour before police found the stolen guns.

Ridley was on bail for possessing methamphetamine when he committed the weapons offences.

Police found a foil-wrapped crystal substance in a small pouch down Ridley’s pants when they pulled over a car in which he was a passenger at Merbein in late July.

Defence counsel Hugh Middleton said Ridley did not have a criminal record until about four years ago, when he began using ice after a serious problem arose in his personal life.

Mr Middleton said Ridley had a lengthy history of employment but the addiction “dealt him a savage blow”.

Mr Middleton asked Magistrate Gerard Lethbridge to impose a fixed term of imprisonment and to place him on a new community corrections order on his release.

However, Mr Lethbridge said the courts had to send a message about the seriousness of weapons offences, particularly when they related to prohibited people in possession of guns.

“This raises a real issue about community safety and in denouncing the black market in firearms,” he said.

Ridley was sentenced to a 17-month jail term, with an 11-month non-parole period, and fined $800.

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