When sentencing a 72-year-old man for the authorised possession of a shotgun, Magistrate David Day stressed the dangers of firearms falling into the wrong hands when they're being kept illegally at rural properties.
On March 13, 2019, police attended the defendant's Yarrabin property, after they'd been informed about the firearm. They were taken to a shearing shed, where the double-barrel shotgun was located.
The owner said that it was left there by a group of people who'd been hunting at the property - with his permission - about 10 years prior, and he didn't know what to do with it. No ammunition was found.
He has never held a firearm licence.
Because of the defendant's age and lack of previous offences, Magistrate Day chose not to record a criminal conviction when he appeared in Mudgee Local Court on Wednesday.
However, his honour went on to say that "the message needs to be sent to rural communities", when it comes to unauthorised possession of firearms.
"You said you found it and didn't know what to do with it - you should've called the police asked what to do, or turned it in during a firearms amnesty," he said.
"Because there's always a risk of people entering a shed on a property and seeing something they like, ie a double-barrel shotgun. And once they've taken it it's gone feral."
The maximum penalty for possessing an unauthorised firearm is 14 years imprisonment.