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A soldier’s efforts to avoid convictions, after being found with a semi-automatic rifle, prohibited magazines, a cut-down shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, have hit a bump due to the army not saying if he will be dismissed.
But his lawyer expects a psychological report to show he suffers from service-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.
Piquet Kolin Lawson, 31, was due to be sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court on Monday for charges stemming from a find fellow soldiers made at his house in August.
The colleagues went to his home after a function, where they found 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.
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The shotgun was technically a pistol as it was cut down to 600 millimetres.
Lawson’s firearms licence was revoked in 2019, while the AK-47 and magazines were prohibited as part of the gun law changes following the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks.
He told police he had the arsenal for “home protection”.
Defence lawyer Mark Alderdice said he wanted sentencing put off so Lawson could try to gather more evidence to apply for a discharge without conviction.
The army would not say if it would dismiss Lawson if he was convicted, Alderdice said.
“They will not make a decision about retention until there is a sentence.”
When deciding if they should grant a discharge without conviction, judges have to look at how serious the crime is, the consequence of a conviction and if the impact of a conviction is out of proportion to the seriousness of the crime.
Alderdice said Lawson was seeing a psychologist, paid for by the army, but had only had three sessions.
More time was needed before a report from the psychologist could be provided to the court, which Alderdice expected to show Lawson had PTSD as a result of his combat role overseas.
That would give context to the offending, showing it to be uncharacteristic behaviour on Lawson’s part, Alderdice said.
Judge Ian Carter granted the adjournment, putting sentencing off until March.
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