Tele: Snake shooting and cannabis – Stories behind NSW’s weirdest gun arrests

Police have been determined to stem the flow of guns to the city’s underworld as tensions rise in the wake of several gangland shootings.

But all too often firearms turn up in the hands of less savvy criminals, with no underworld links, who have offered plenty of colourful excuses for having a gun in their possession.

In the last year the list of those who pleaded guilty includes a bikie associate beaten into holding weapons for pretending to take cocaine, a bloke whose “self defence” gun was found after he smashed his car on the way to court and a dad trying to bond with his son using gel blasters after introducing his lad to meth.

PARANOID POT SMOKER WAYNE MACK

The Fixated Persons Unit quickly honed in on paranoid former TAFE teacher Wayne Raymond Mack after he was found with cannabis near Mudgee.

He was placed on a firearm prohibition order and a police search found eight firearms — including shotguns and rifles — and two imitation firearms along with cannabis plants hidden on his farm.

The courts heard he’d done time for similar crimes in the past but didn’t know what to do to get rid of the guns without getting into further trouble — so he smoked cannabis to put it out of his mind.

Mack was emotional as he was given eight years in jail, with a non-parole period of four years and nine months in October.

SNAKE SHOOTER MOUSTAPHA ALI

Moustapha Ali came undone after police showed up at a house following reports of license plates being swapped at a home near Young.

A white, unregistered van sped off and police later found it on the side of the road. Inside was a shortened shotgun and a chewing gum packet with more than 120 steroid tablets and meth.

Ali’s DNA was allegedly matched to the scene and he later told the court the gun, which was loaded, was to shoot snakes at the family property.

A judge gave him four years six months imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years.

RELUCTANT GUN RUNNER SHANE SIMPSON

That’s nothing compared to the 13 years handed to Shane James Simpson who illegally dealt guns from his Port Kembla sports shop — he was linked to almost 300 black market pistols.

The 48-year-old dad of three claimed he was forced into the illegal racket after an unknown man showed him a video of another man being shot in the back of the head with a gun which he had helped put together.

He’d grind the serial numbers off and leave the guns in an alley. He never made money but the guns were used in underworld attacks including a drive by and a fatal bikie shooting.

BIKIE ASSOCIATE ANGELO ZEPIDIS

Police turned up at the door of Angelo Zepidis’ mother’s place in Ramsgate and began searching.

Despite being under a firearm prohibition order Zepidis’ bed had six guns laid out neatly on the covers, police alleged.

A crossbow sat at the head of the bed and there was ammunition in the home as well.

Zepidis said he was acting under duress after he’d gone to hang out with his bikie mates as they drank and did cocaine.

His mates had “sanctioned him”, a nice way of saying he was bashed unconscious, after he disrespected them by pretending to use cocaine and lying about it.

He woke up tied to a chair and had boiling water poured on him but he never provided the names of his attackers.

Zepidis said the bikies, after that, dropped a stolen car containing the guns at his home and told him to mind them. He did so out of fear, he said, and wanted to turn them in but never did.

He will be eligible for parole next May.

ICE ADDICT PHILLIP PHAN

Phillip Phan was on the way to Liverpool Court when he smashed his ute into a telegraph pole and then another car in Padstow.

He got out of the car and began walking, telling onlookers he wasn’t hurt.

Police arrived at the scene and found a loaded Glock 19 next to the handbrake and Phan’s license but Phan was at court facing a charge of driving with drugs in his system.

He was later arrested and told police he was “paranoid” after masked intruders broke into his home and fired bullets at his family.

Phan said he bought the gun to defend his home.

The judge was alarmed to learn Phan had been suffering from meth-induced psychosis when arrested meaning he had a gun in public while high on ice.

“Mr Phan stated he did not plan to use the firearm for violence, however appeared to contradict this statement, advising he planned to use the firearm to scare three men he believed to be targeting him for reasons he could not explain,” his sentencing report reads.

He was sentenced to four years with an earliest release date of July this year.

The Australian Gun Lobby is cashed up and using NRA style tactics to influence campaigns and get more pro-gun candidates into parliament.

FATHER GEL BLASTER BONDING

Long-time drug user and repeat weapons offender Joel Michael Foster was found in possession of gel blaster guns, a slingshot, a crossbow and meth which SMS messages revealed he intended to deal in “a very low level, unsophisticated ad hoc” way.

Foster said he was trying to bond with his son, 19, and gel blasters were a more affordable way to do that than going to a paintball range.

But texts reveal the father talking about drug supply, the NSW District Court Heard.

Foster told the court he had introduced his son to ice.

“There must be serious reservations about the suggestion that a father with the history of the offender and with a history of introducing his own son to the use of ice in his teenage years is the selfsame father jumping around the backyard playing gel blasting games,” Judge Jonathon Priestley SC said.

He was given 14 months at least in prison with an earliest release in June this year. His son was not accused of any wrongdoing.

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