Friday, October 13, 2017

Australian Court Appeal: Olympic Shooter Not Guilty of Unsafe Storage

There is an interesting new twist to Australian gun law. An appeal to a district court in New South Wales (perhaps the most strict gun laws in Australia) has reversed gun law convictions of unsafe storage on a Australian Olympic gold medal shooter.

Two-time Olympic shooting gold medallist Michael Diamond has been acquitted of three firearms convictions that effectively ended his illustrious shooting career.

Diamond was found guilty of the offences in May this year, seeing him banned from holding a gun licence for 10 years.

He later lodged an appeal which a Newcastle court today upheld while quashing his local court convictions after a judge questioned the legality of a car search.

 The court reversed a local courts conviction of the Olympic gold medal winner. The local conviction prevented Diamond from competing in the 2016 Olympics.

The prosecutor, P.J. O'Brien made the case the Olympic shooter had stored his shotgun without sufficient precautions. The gun was disassembled and in a short case. The case was not locked by the car was. The judge also mentioned the car had tinted windows, preventing a thief from knowing there was a case, or particularly, a gun case, in the vehicle.

The judge ruled that Olympian's state of sobriety was not relevant, because guns can be safely stored, even if the owner is not sober.

There were over a hundred shotgun cartridges in the vehicle, which was also held to be irrelevant, as the shotgun was disassembled.

The case is the equivalent of a district court overturning a municipal court decision in the United States. The result is important to Michael Diamond. He should be able to shoot in the next Olympics.

I talked to a Barrister who practises in New South Wales. I asked him if the case had precedential authority. The answer was a clear no.

The district level court does not create cit-able precedent. In the United States, precedent first occurs at the appeals court level.

This case, in Australia, was one level below that.

It might embolden others to appeal their gun convictions, but it does not change established law.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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