Would-be gun runner caught trying to supply assault rifle

A WOULD-BE gun runner has been fined $2000 for trying to source a semi-automatic rifle for a work colleague.

Toowoomba man William Frederick Kieth O'Toole became the subject of Australian Federal Police surveillance after he was observed to have been involved in a series of phone calls to a man who officers had been listening in on since September last year.

The 43-year-old fronted Toowoomba Magistrates Court yesterday on a charge of unlawful supply of a category D (assault rifle) weapon.

Prosecutor Greg McIntyre said Australian Federal Police officers were granted telephone interception warrants for O'Toole and a third man from whom he was trying to source a Heckler and Koch Model 770 .310 calibre semi-automatic rifle.


Mr McIntyre said the man for whom O'Toole was trying to source the weapon was in turn offering to supply it to other people.

The court heard O'Toole drove to the planned supplier's property near Woodford on October 8.

Mr McIntyre said after leaving the property, O'Toole called the planned recipient and they had a coded conversation about picking up the weapon.

Properties of the three men were raided on December 2, with searches uncovering a cache of firearms including handguns, assault rifles, shortened shotguns, silencers and an Owen machine gun at the Woodford property which O'Toole had visited in October.

"Police located around 100 firearms or major components thereof about the property," Mr McIntyre said.

He said the assault weapon which O'Toole had been discussing was found in a cupboard in a spare bedroom.

Multiple weapons charges were laid against the Woodford resident, including supply of the rifle to O'Toole.

Mr McIntyre said O'Toole voluntarily attended Toowoomba Police Station on January 4 this year and was charged.

Defence solicitor David Burns noted the legal definition of supplying a weapon also included plans to supply, without the actual act taking place.

Mr Burns said his client had been buying meat from the Woodford man for a number of years and had done so for his friends.

He said O'Toole was pressured by his work colleague to see if he could obtain the weapon.

"Basically, to get him off his back, he said he would see what he could do," Mr Burns said.

"There was no actual supply, but acts preparatory to supply."

He said his client worked in earthmoving, an industry he had gotten into after nearly three years in the army.

Magistrate Bruce Schemioneck imposed the $2000 fine on O'Toole and did not record a conviction.

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