A firearm owner was sentenced in Mudgee Local Court on Wednesday, for lending guns to teenage boys for an unsupervised hunting trip that ended in one of them being severely injured when he was accidentally shot.
Michael Anthony Brennan, aged 58, of Limekilns Road, Wattle Flat, was placed on an 18-month corrections order with 100 hours community service.
On the weekend of August 25-26, 2018, he took the 15-year-old boys to camp and hunt at a Sofala property that he was carrying out farm work at. Brennan left six firearms and ammunition with them and returned home.
Two of the boys held Minor Firearm Permits, however this only allowed them to use firearms under the supervision of a licence holder.
Sometime before 9am on the Sunday morning the victim was shot in the back at close range when a 12-gauge shot gun discharged.
Emergency services were contacted and he was taken to Bathurst Hospital before being transferred to Westmead to undergo major surgery to several organs. A lengthy hospital stay followed.
After some initial difficulty contacting Brennan, due to poor phone reception, he was questioned at Bathurst Police Station where it was noted that he appeared to be genuinely remorseful for not supervising the group even though he understood that it was required.
He was charged with 'Give firearm to person not authorised by licence/permit'. When police examined the scene of the incident they also found a homemade silencer, leading to a subsequent charge of 'Possess or use a prohibited weapon without permit'.
Magistrate David Day said the victim is "lucky to be alive" after the court heard that he still has pellets lodged in his body.
His Honour commented that sentencing the defendant was difficult, because "the victim isn't a victim of Mr Brennan's actions, it's a consequence". Also because of his lack of criminal history.
But he confirmed that "he's not escaping conviction, because of the need for general deterrence". And added that misuse of firearms "isn't just the flavour of the week", particularly when it came to rural areas.
Magistrate Day also disagreed with Brennan's assertion - in his letter to the court - that he was comfortable with leaving the firearms with the 15-year-old boys because of their country upbrinding and involvement with cadets and pistol clubs. Calling this belief "foolish in the extreme".