Bikie faces court over weapons stash

FOUR members of the Grafton chapter of the Gladiators Motorcycle Club told Coffs Harbour District Court yesterday they had keys to a storage unit at Toormina where prohibited guns were found.

The club members ? Benjamin Gilson, Shane Fowler, Michael Reimer and Craig Williams ? each said they received a key to the storage unit, as well as to the Gladiators' clubhouse in Turf Street, Grafton.

Each claimed to have been to High-Tech Self Storage in Toormina, where police allegedly found firearms and other weapons during a search of the storage unit on November 20, 2002.

Kungala man, Steven Gardiner, the president of the Gladiators at the time of the search, is standing trial on one count of possessing five unregistered, prohibited firearms and six counts of possessing prohibited weapons.

Gardiner organised the lease for the storage unit in October 1999.

Mr Gilson said he went to the unit five to six times after joining the Gladiators in May 2001, at which time he was given keys to the clubhouse and the storage unit.

The court heard Mr Gilson eventually had two keys for the storage unit after forgeting his original key before one trip to Toormina and getting another key from the clubhouse.

The copper-coloured keys Mr Gilson said were his were tendered into evidence and when Judge Thomas Ducker tried them in the padlock cut from the door of the storage unit before the police search, he found one did not work.

After trying the keys himself, with the same result, Mr Gilson said he could not explain why one did not work.

During cross-examination, the witness was given the opportunity to try the other keys in his possession and soon found a silver-coloured key that opened the lock.

Mr Fowler said he made 'a couple' of trips to the storage unit, and Mr Reimer and Mr Williams testified that they went there once each.

A former president of the club, Scott McCombie, told the court he made six trips to the storage unit.

Mr McCombie said after police allegedly found the firearms and weapons at Toormina and three loaded rifles and ammunition at the Turf Street clubhouse, he asked other members of the club if they knew anything about the guns. He said all denied any knowledge but some 'seemed to think I was pointing the finger at them'.

He named Sniper Edmonds as the main person to take offence at the questioning, and said Mr Edmonds, along with two other members ? identified as Swifty and Johnno ? left the club soon afterwards. The trial continues to- day.

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