"This wasn't a .22 rifle – it was a damn Glock. And it's not the first time
he's been charged with the same offence."
The 9mm Glock pistol, which can hold up to 15 rounds in its magazine, is
used extensively worldwide by the military and police, including SA's STAR
The Major Crime Investigation Section case against Petropoulos and two other
Hells Angels bikies over the murder of three Rebels members in Wright St,
city, in October 1999 is still open.
Petropoulos was charged with the latest offence after the Mazda RX7 he was
driving was pulled over and searched by police on Bartels Rd in the city at
5am on May 3 last year.
The Glock was found when a detective removed a panel in which a speaker was
installed under the glovebox. The loaded handgun was wedged behind the
Forensic tests revealed Petropoulos had been handling it, with his DNA found
on the trigger and the guard.
His lawyer, David Edwardson, told the District Court in sentencing
submissions last month Petropoulos was not aware the gun was hidden in the
car until it was found by police.
He said Petropoulos had lent the car to a friend, who also owned the gun,
the day before.
Mr Edwardson told the court Petropoulos had also handled the gun the same
Police records indicated the handgun was registered to a friend of
Petropoulos – a Hells Angels associate member – but his licence for it had
expired just over a year earlier.
When police questioned the friend he told them he had handed the handgun in
to police at the Netley station several months after his licence expired.
"That was obviously wrong," Mr Edwardson told the court.
Shortly after Petropoulos was charged, police searched a Mercedes owned by
the friend and found a 12mm handgun, silencer and ammunition in a black case
under the front seat.
The friend was fined $9301 in Whyalla Magistrates Court last August after
being convicted of seven charges relating to the incident.
While prosecutor Jane Abbey did not oppose a suspended sentence for
Petropoulos in his case, she did request the Glock pistol be forfeited.
"Mr Petropoulos is a known member of a motorcycle club and so it's
considered important that the order be made," Ms Abbey said.
She said his membership of a motorcycle club was not relevant in sentencing,
but relevant in the gun forfeiture.
"What I say is it shows Your Honour something of the circumstances of which
the gun would be in were it to be returned and not forfeited to the Crown,"
Ms Abbey said.
Judge Simpson asked if the gun would be returned to Petropoulos's friend if
it were not forfeited, to which Ms Abbey replied: "Yes."
Judge Simpson asked Ms Abbey if she was suggesting the associate was also a
gang member, to which Ms Abbey replied: "Yes, that they both are, yes."
Sentencing Petropoulos on Monday, Judge Simpson said he had a conviction
recorded in June 1995 for the same offence, but "otherwise, you have no
relevant prior criminal offending".
"A sentence of imprisonment is the only penalty that is appropriate," she
"I impose a sentence of five months in prison. But for your plea of guilty,
it would have been a term of six months in prison."
"Having regard to the fact that the one previous conviction for similar
offending was recorded over 10 years ago . . . it is appropriate to suspend
the sentence on your entering into a bond with a condition that you are of
good behaviour, that is, you do not break the law for a period of 12 months
. . ."
Judge Simpson ordered the Glock be forfeited and Petropoulos be disqualified
from holding a firearms licence for a year.
In October 1999, Petropoulos and fellow Hells Angels members Faoud "Fred"
Chaptini and Peter John Threadgold were each charged with three counts of
The charges followed a shootout in Wright St in the city in which three
members of the Rebels – Graham Nixon, 33, Sinibaldo Palombi, 35, and Hubert
Weston, 32, were killed.
Threadgold was arrested just hours after the October 8 shootings while
Chaptini and Petropoulos fled. Arrest warrants for three counts of murder
and two of attempted murder were subsequently taken out against them.
Murder charges against the trio were dropped in Adelaide Magistrates Court
in June 2000, after the case against them collapsed when members of the
Rebels refused to give evidence.
Premier Mike Rann declined to comment, other than to say he would ask
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to get advice on the matter from the
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.