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A soldier who lives in military housing is hoping to avoid a conviction after being found with a semi-automatic rifle, prohibited magazines, a cut-down shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Piquet Kolin Lawson, 30, pleaded guilty in the Palmerston North District Court on Wednesday to a range of charges stemming from the find fellow soldiers made when visiting his house in August.
Lawson’s name, occupation and his employer were previously suppressed, but those orders lapsed on Wednesday.
Lawson, a soldier based out of Linton Military Camp, was accompanied to court by his commanding officer.
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Court documents show Lawson’s offending was discovered because he consumed alcohol at a function on August 6.
Colleagues, concerned about his welfare, went to his home where, while checking on him, became aware he possessed firearms.
He had a Norinco AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, two 30-round magazines for the AK-47, a 12-gauge single-shot shotgun, 75 shotgun shells and 199 7.62x39 rounds capable of being fired with the AK-47.
The shotgun was cut down to 600 millimetres, making it a pistol.
He had those guns despite having his firearms licence revoked in 2019.
The AK-47 and magazines were made prohibited weapons as part of the gun law changes following the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks.
Lawson's colleague took charge of the weapons, which were later seized by military police.
He told police he acquired the firearms for “home protection” and because he thought they could be used to deter intruders.
Defence lawyer Mark Alderdice asked Judge Stephanie Edwards to not enter convictions so Lawson could explore being discharged without conviction.
He was waiting for an affidavit from his commanding officer before being able to confirm if the convictions would harm his employment status with the New Zealand Defence Force, Alderdice said.
People can get discharged without conviction if they can satisfy the court the consequences of conviction outweigh the seriousness of a crime.
A judge considering an application for a discharge without conviction follows a three-step process: assess how serious the crime is, look at the consequences of a conviction, then decide if the impact of conviction is out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence.
Piquet is on bail until November.
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