08 7111 0375

First consultation free

SAWN OFF RIFLE WASN’T A SMOKING GUN

SAWN OFF RIFLE WASN’T A SMOKING GUN

A recent appeal in the Supreme Court shows some of the issues that come up when police have to prove that a person was in possession of something.  You might think that if someone is sitting in a car with a sawn-off rifle at their feet and their DNA is found on the gun it’s a pretty strong case.  But in criminal law possession has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

A man was charged with being in possession of a sawn-off bolt action rifle which the police found in the footwell of the front passenger seat of the car in which he was seated.  He was sitting in that front passenger seat but the car belonged to the driver and there were three others sitting in the back seat.

Gun Barrel with Smoke on black background

 

The police had pulled the car over and asked the occupants to get out, then one of the officers saw the gun in the footwell of where the man had been sitting.  When the police questioned the man he told them that he didn’t know the gun was there and that he didn’t have any prior knowledge of it.  But DNA matching his was found in a swab taken from the trigger guard, bolt and grip of the rifle.

When the case went to Court however, the man gave evidence that he had been in the same car the day before with the owner of the car and there were a man and a woman sitting in the back seat.  The male passenger produced the loaded saw-off rifle and the charged man became angry and took it away from him, opened the bolt to eject the bullet which he then threw out the window, and then put the gun under the front seat.  When the car stopped, the male passenger who had produced the gun jumped out of the car and ran away.

It was the man’s evidence that when he got into the car on the day that the police stopped it, he had forgotten that the gun was there because he had just taken methadone.

At the time, the Firearms Act said that a person had possession of a firearm in any of a number of situations including (1) if they had custody of the gun or had it in someone else’s custody; (2) if they had and exercised access to the gun or (3) if they occupied or controlled premises or was in charge of a vehicle in which the gun was found.  In the last case however, the person did not have possession if they didn’t know that the firearm was there or they believed on reasonable grounds that it was in the lawful possession of another person.  The Act has changed since then but still says that possession occurs in much the same circumstances.

One problem was that when the police found the gun it had elastic and black material wrapped around the bolt and part of the barrel.  That couldn’t have been there when the man ejected the shell.  But the Court said that it was possible the rifle had been taped up in the period between when the man had handled it and when the police stopped the car.

Despite his evidence, the Court found that the man knew the rifle was at his feet, but that didn’t mean that he had ‘custody’ or exercised access to it.  There was just no evidence that he did anything on that day to show that he had control of the gun.  He was the closest person in the car to where it was situated, but the Court said that belongings in a car might be located closer to one person than another however that doesn’t mean that he occupant seated nearest to the item has control over it.

Even so, didn’t the man have possession of the gun the day before when he ejected the shell and put the rifle on the floor of the car?  Well the prosecution case was limited to the day that the police stopped the car.  If he had been charged with possession of the gun on that earlier day the outcome might have been different, but that wasn’t the case.

This case is a good example of how proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ means more than just making assumptions, and also how the way in which a case is presented by prosecution can limit the findings that a Court can make.  The man in this case actually pleaded guilty to the charge at first, but when the Court wouldn’t accept his version of events as the basis for his plea of guilty the case went to trial.   Whether it is a disputed charge or a guilty plea, criminal law is a specialised area and Websters Lawyers have experienced criminal lawyers who can assist in all types of criminal charges.

R v Britten [2018] SASCFC 36

FREE FIRST INTERVIEW

NO WIN NO FEE

LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS

GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST

Testimonials

Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner

Sebastian

Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.

Nicholas

West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.

Kerry

Ridgehaven

Patient and helpful in explaining the process.

Brian

Ridgehaven

Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.

Christine

Magill

Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.

Christina

Highbury

Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.

Garth

Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.

Jeffrey

Brompton

Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.

Alexis

Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.

Christina

Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.

Mary

Ridgehaven

Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed

John

Ridgehaven

I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.

Diane 

Ridgehaven

The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.

Julie

Yorketown

[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.

Craig

Golden Grove

 

I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.

Rod

Dernancourt

It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.

Kathleen

Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.

John

Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 

Gordon

Glengowrie

Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!

Phillip

Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].

Janet

Adelaide

[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.

Jonathan

Greenwith

[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.

Rachel

Greenwith

Professional. Smooth Transaction. 

Luke

Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.

Ethel

Smithfield

This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.

Stephen

Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair

 

With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park

 

Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys

 

I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright WebstersLawyers.com 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing

Leave a Comment