A 29-YEAR-old South Grafton man found with a loaded revolver in the Grafton CBD has been jailed for six months.
Matthew James Maton pleaded guilty to possessing a loaded firearm in a public place, possessing an unauthorised pistol and possessing an unauthorised firearm-pistol. He was sentenced in Grafton Local Court yesterday.
Maximum sentences range from 10 to 14 years on these charges.
The court heard Grafton Police saw Maton place a holstered revolver in a backpack and walk away from the area, after he pulled up in a car with other people at the police station on November 28.
Police apprehended him and found he had a holstered Webley Mark IV revolver loaded with three rounds of ammunition in the backpack
His defence solicitor said there were extenuating circumstances for his client. He said Maton had been cleaning up an old house and discovered the pistol and was taking it to the police station to surrender it.
"He has been institutionalised from a young age and has spent half his life in institutions," his solicitor said.
The defence said Maton had an extensive criminal record, but not with firearms offences. His only previous illegal weapons charge related to a slingshot.
"He told me he would not know how to load or unload the revolver," the defence said.
He also noted the revolver was old, dating back to the period of the Boer War at the turn of the 19th century.
Maton claimed when he arrived at the police station and saw police looking at him he became "spooked" because of his previous associations with the law.
"He decided to put the revolver in his backpack and walk to his father's house and get his father to call the police and tell them to get the revolver," the defence said.
He said his client's life had not equipped him with a "good tool bag" for making choices.
Magistrate Robyn Denes said it was concerning that Maton chose to bring a loaded pistol into the precinct of her court, which was also an area in the CBD of Grafton.
She noted there was a school across the road and the police station and court house close by.
She said when the court became aware of the offence on November 28, there were fears it could be related to the appearance in court of a person with links to a prominent drug trafficking case.
The Magistrate said while Maton might not have the best "tool bag" for decision making, it did not excuse him from trying to turn his life around.
"I've seen blind men surfing," she said.
"You can't tell me that if a blind man can learn to surf, you can't learn to make better decisions.
"You're not a bad person, but you've made bad decisions.
"You've got to learn to have more faith in yourself."
Ms Denes said she had to send a message to the community that she would not tolerate having a loaded firearm outside her courthouse.
She sentenced Maton to a six-month fixed term jail sentence for all three charges dating from November 28 when he first went into custody.