Gun dealings misfire: Stolen rifles go missing, two men land in jail

TWO men who attempted to sell stolen firearms or trade them for drugs have been ­sentenced to jail, while five rifles remain ­unaccounted for.

Richard Thomas and Michael Webb, who were both on bail at the time of the offending, each pleaded guilty to five charges, ­including possessing firearms, handling ­stolen goods and acquiring longarm rifles without a ­permit, before Mildura Magistrates’ Court yesterday. 

The court heard Thomas, 31, was prohibited from being in possession of a firearm during the offending, which began with a burglary committed at a San Mateo Avenue house last November.

A gun safe containing six rifles valued at more than $5000 was stolen from a shed at the back of the property.

In the following days, a man was contacted by Thomas and Webb to see if he knew of anyone interested in buying guns, before Thomas and three passengers met a potential buyer on Eleventh Street.

The buyer inspected the guns and one of Thomas’ passengers noted information about the guns on his iPad, which he later used to research them online.

The court was told Webb attempted to ­exchange the firearms for drugs and gave one away to clear a drug debt.

In December, police pulled over Thomas and the same passenger on Hugh King Drive, finding the gun research on his iPad.

The same month Webb, 27, handed himself into police and provided information that led to the recovery of one of the firearms.

In a police interview, he claimed after Thomas asked him to burn the gun registration papers in the safe he suspected it was stolen.

However he did not burn the papers as ­requested, saying: “I’m a sticky nose and had a quick squiz.”

Thomas gave a no-comment interview.

Given his co-operation with police, which led to one firearm being found, Webb was yesterday sentenced to nine months’ jail, with 137 days already served.

After release, he will be placed on a 12-month community corrections order with a drug treatment component.

He also lost his licence for 12 months after also pleading guilty to past offences including drug-driving and car theft.

Thomas received a 14-month jail term, with 222 days served, given his larger role in the offending and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. 

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