SAM is an elderly shooter who lives near Ballarat on a rural property and has held pistol/longarm licences for over 30 years with an unblemished record. He is a popular and well-known member of his club and highly regarded there.
In 2021, Sam was the victim of an extortion attempt, being blackmailed to pay a large amount of money. He was told by the perpetrator that if he didn’t, they would make a complaint to the police and an intervention order would follow.
When he refused his blackmailer made good on their threat. Sam was visited by police from Ballan, served an interim intervention order, had his licence suspended and all his guns and ammunition seized.
Sam comes to the NSC
On advice from others in his club, Sam came to the NSC for help and we referred him to the NSC’s barrister. The matter went to court, the allegations against him were proven to be false and the intervention order was thrown out.
The dodgy seizure
When police seized his guns and ammunition, Sam asked the attending police to count the seized ammunition. However they refused, complaining “they didn’t have all day.”
The police property receipt simply states “various ammunition” but does NOT state the quantity or type of ammunition taken.So, Sam took pictures of all his seized ammunition as it was being loaded into the police car. Lots of pictures.
Cops make ammo go missing
When Sam got his guns and ammunition back from police, over 60,000 rounds of ammunition was missing and some of his guns were returned damaged.
The “missing” ammunition was virtually all pistol ammo, being 9mm, .38 special, .45ACP, and .357 magnum and interesting, was all “factory load” ammo. Sam’s reloads were returned to him.
Also missing was Sam’s longarm ammo, particularly the high value stuff such as .17HMR. Like he had done previously, Sam took pictures of his returned ammo when police bought it back.
Sam takes matter to ibac
Angry by what had happened Sam lodged a complaint against police with the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC). After hearing nothing from IBAC for months, Sam was told by IBAC that they had referred his complaint back to Victoria Police Professional Standards Command to investigate.
IBAC do this with 70% of the complaints they get about VicPol, claiming they don’t have the manpower or resources to investigate all complaints against police.
IBAC passes buck to original police officers
VicPol PSC sent the complaint to police at Bacchus Marsh to investigate. In other words, neighbouring police to those being investigated. Unsurprisingly, the police investigated themselves and found nothing wrong and Sam was told “case closed”, everything seized has been returned.
Frustrated Sam wrote directly to VicPol Chief Commissioner Shane Patton but hasn’t even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement let alone a reply!
Quilty asks the hard questions
On Thursday, 4th August 2022, Tim Quilty MP raised Sam’s matter in Parliament (see video here).
Sam’s case is NOT unique or new.
In 2019, The Age newspaper reported on theft from police custody. To read that story click here.
In 2018 the Victorian Auditor General prepared a report about the same issues.
To see the VAGO report click here.
Turning a blind eye
It is apparent that neither VicPol nor the government are interested in fixing the problem of theft of guns, ammo and even drugs from police custody or police corruption. The NSC has also noticed that for whatever reason police misconduct seems to be targeted towards elderly licence holders.
Every Victorian shooter should be deeply concerned about what has happened to Sam. Before shrugging their shoulders and saying “it doesn’t affect me” we should remember Sam never thought in his worst nightmare that this could ever happen to him either.
Sam is deeply worried about his missing ammo as he knows his fingerprints and DNA are all over it and he dreads what might happen if his stolen ammo is used in a crime.
This is why we need a strong NSC. We fight for licence holders every day.