Patrice Dougan

Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Jail for selling $50k worth of firearms to criminals

Peter James Edwards in the dock at Auckland District Court. He's been jailed for six years. Photo / NZ Herald file
Peter James Edwards in the dock at Auckland District Court. He's been jailed for six years. Photo / NZ Herald file

An unemployed Auckland man who purchased $50,000 worth of firearms then passed them to gang members and other criminals has been jailed for nearly six years.

Peter James Edwards purchased 72 rifles and shotguns in just 18 months, then modified the weapons by cutting down the barrel or stock and adding pistol grips and silencers.

The pistol-sized firearms, which are easily carried and concealed, are highly prized in the criminal fraternity and the case has highlighted how easily guns can fall into the wrong hands.

Edwards, 58, was today sentenced in the Auckland District Court after earlier pleading guilty to supplying firearms to unlicensed individuals, supplying a pistol and supplying methamphetamine.

The gravity of his offending was "extremely high", Judge Nevin Dawson said.

"A large number of seriously dangerous weapons were supplied to Head Hunters gang members by you and they would have had them for devious purposes," he said.

"The extent of harm from your offending is hard to assess but the risk to the community is very high."

Edwards had sold methamphetamine to his daughter, starting on her 19th birthday, something Judge Dawson described as "thoroughly scurrilous behaviour" and an "abuse of trust".

"Your excuse that you were helping her is simply outrageous." Edwards' offending was at the high end of the scale, Judge Dawson said, only giving a minimum reduction for an early guilty plea and calling his remorse "presentence-induced".

He sentenced Edwards to a total of five years and 10 months in prison.

His lawyer Graeme Newell said there had been a "limited degree of commerciality" in relation to the meth supply charge and his client had no relevant criminal history in New Zealand.

He also argued his client had recently gone through a knee replacement and a prison sentence could add "further hardship".

Edwards has 53 previous convictions in Western Australia.

Critics say firearm record-keeping in New Zealand is poor after the system of licensing each firearm was abandoned in 1982 in favour of registering gun owners instead.

The result is that the police have no idea how many guns -- legal or illegal -- there are in the country or how many stolen or modified guns are in circulation.

Edwards held an A-category firearms licence and bought 67 firearms from Gun City stores in Auckland and Christchurch between May 2012 and last December.

He spent $50,000 on firearms alone but also bought 16,000 rounds of ammunition, pistol grips, folding stocks and silencers.

He modified the firearms in his shed, often removing the serial numbers, then sold them to criminals including patched members of the Head Hunters who are not able to legally purchase weapons.

- Additional reporting Jared Savage of the New Zealand Herald

- APNZ

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