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08 Apr, 2011 12:39 AM
A BANDIDOS Motorcycle Club member caught with an arsenal of weaponry when police raided his Ross Creek home on Thursday was yesterday released on bail.
Ballarat Magistrates Court heard firearms found at 39-year-old John Newman’s home included a machine gun, a sawn off shotgun, multiple rifles and a handgun, along with large quantities of ammunition, half a kilogram of white powder yet to be identified, drug paraphernalia and a Harley Davidson motorcycle frame and ride-on lawnmower both suspected to be stolen.
Newman was charged with 37 offences, including trafficking amphetamine and more than 30 firearms offences.
Detective Sergeant Martin Robertson of Victoria Police Taskforce Rossa told the court Newman held the position of sergeant at arms in the notorious motorcycle club, a title that entitled him to possess the weapons belonging to the club.
He said police opposed Newman’s bail application on the grounds he posed an unacceptable danger to the public.
Newman’s home was one of 25 raids undertaken across Victoria on Thursday as a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police Operation Nemesis and Victoria Police Taskforce Rossa.
Newman’s wife and 19-year-old daughter have also been charged with identical offences to their husband and father and were released on bail to front Ballarat Magistrates Court at a later date.
In defence of Newman, Mike Wardell said despite the fact he was at the Ross Creek home when it was raided and all indications were he lived there, his listed address was a Ballarat one and thus there was no tangible evidence that he possessed the firearms and drugs. He said the owner of the Ross Creek home was Newman’s wife.
Mr Wardell also successfully argued that waiting times for forensic results could take up to a year, which he said was far too long to deprive Newman of his liberty.
In granting bail, magistrate Andrew Cappell said despite the “extremely disturbing” cache of weaponry, the prosecution’s case was not particularly strong.
“The fact he has access to that volume of weapons would strike fear into the hearts of any citizen,” he said.
“There is at least 12 months before testing can be conducted and this is not such an overwhelming case as would justify taking away his liberty.
“There is little, if any, tangible evidence to corroborate the fears of the prosecution.”
Mr Cappell released Newman on a $20,000 surety, along with residential and reporting conditions. He also ordered him to surrender his passport.