Summing up begins in bikie firearms case

THE task of the jury in the trial of a Gladiators Motorcycle Club member facing firearms and weapons possession charges in the Coffs Harbour District Court is more difficult because of differing legal definitions of the word 'possession', according to the judge hearing the trial.

Judge Thomas Ducker yesterday spent a large part of his summing up of the evidence explaining the different standards of proof the prosecution must meet.

Steven Gardiner, 48, of Kungala, is standing trial on one count of possessing five unregistered, prohibited firearms and six counts of possessing prohibited weapons.

The firearms and weapons were found during a search of a storage unit at Hi-Tech Self Storage, Toormina, on November 20, 2002.

Judge Ducker explained that in relation to the charge of possessing the firearms, there was no dispute that the five guns were not registered, that they were unlicensed and prohibited, and that Gardiner was not licensed to possess them.

"The only matter that must be proved by the prosecution is that the accused possessed those firearms," he said.

Under section 4A of the Firearms Act, Gardiner is considered to be in possession of the firearms if the Crown can prove he owned, leased or was in control or management of the storage unit at Toormina.

During the trial, evidence was given that lease for the storage unit was made out in Gardiner's name.

The defendant told the court he had leased the unit on the instruction of the then president of the Grafton chapter of the Gladiators and when he had tried to take the lease in the name of the club was told he could not do so without authorisation.

He then signed the lease in his own name.

Concluding his closing address yesterday, defence counsel John Carty said the jury should be satisfied the storage unit was leased for the use of the Gladiators club and not for Gardiner's use.

The trial continues.

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