SAS soldier accused of trying to sell Army items to gun shop

By Heather McCracken

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A SAS soldier accused of stealing service property didn't know the gun accessories were owned by the Army, his defence lawyer told a court martial today.

The soldier also wasn't aware other items, including explosive and ammunition, were stored in his garage at Papakura Military Camp, Melinda Mason said.

The 29-year-old is appearing at a court martial facing four charges of stealing service property, relating to an M4 charging handle, a pistol holster, and two JPoint sights, one with an ACOG mount. They were among 29 items offered for sale at a gun shop in Auckland.

Four alternate charges of unlawfully possessing service property in relation to the same items have also been laid.

He is also charged with unlawful possession of Semtex explosive, 11 thunderflashes and ammunition, and two charges of failing to comply with written orders about not keeping a privately owned firearm and ammunition in his barracks.

The soldier has admitted failing to comply with written orders by storing the firearm, but pleaded not guilty to all other charges.

Ms Mason said her client was not aware the items he attempted to sell were Army property.

"He had personal items identical to the charging handle and the JPoint sights and he was very clear that the items he was selling were his own, not military property."

Evidence would show the pistol holster had been disposed of by the Army, she said.

He did not know the items found in the garage - Semtex, thunderflashes and ammunition - were stored there.

Prosecutor Captain Mike Mercer said the case was about a "highly trained soldier who did not comply with Defence Force orders or expectations".

He said the court would hear evidence that the items were property of the Defence Force and had been stolen by the soldier.

The first witness for the prosecution, a sales assistant at the Serious Shooters gun shop in Penrose, described how he was approached by the soldier about selling military items.

When he saw them he was concerned that some appeared to be current-issue military gear and forwarded an email from the soldier to a contact at Papakura Military Camp.

When asked by the prosecution why he was concerned he said some items were available only to military, and some appeared to be in Defence Force bags and have military stickers.

Under questioning from Ms Mason, he said the items would be available to the public in the United States.

- APNZ

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