A CHAMPION rodeo cowboy and local farmer has been forced to surrender his passport after he was charged with 17 firearms offences.
Greg Gibson, 51, a well-known rodeo and bareback rider, appeared in the dock of Tamworth Local Court yesterday to answer the charges, which carry up to 20 years in jail.
The Bective farmer was charged with the offences after police raided his property on Monday afternoon following a tip-off.
During the search detectives seized six firearms including a pump-action shotgun, which is a prohibited weapon.
A quantity of ammunition was also seized.
Gibson has been charged with five counts of possessing an unregistered firearm, six counts of not keeping a firearm safely, two counts of using an unregistered firearm, using a prohibited firearm, possessing ammunition without a licence, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing three or more firearms.
Magistrate Roger Prowse said the presumption of bail was against Gibson.
“Twenty years maximum is the guidepost,” Mr Prowse said, adding they were very serious offences.
However, Gibson’s solicitor argued his client was a citizen of good standing in the local rural community.
“He is well respected in, let’s say, the rural sector in America and Australia,” his solicitor said.
“He is a well-renowned rodeo cowboy.”
He argued the 51-year-old father-of-five had slipped up, telling the court two of the firearms were brought onto the property by another person.
“It’s a stupid, backwards step in his otherwise very accountable ... lifestyle,” he said.
“He has ties to the community, he has a mortgage. He is not a threat.”
As Gibson sat motionless in the dock, his solicitor told the court his client was forthright and upfront with police when they executed the search warrant.
He said Gibson guided police to the firearms, which had allegedly been on the property for years to destroy horses, dogs and snakes.
Magistrate Prowse said it was not just a slip and there were no exceptions.
“You can’t have firearms without them being registered or without a licence. The law says bail is not to be granted.”
His solicitor said it was the one mistake his client had made, and he’d learnt a valuable lesson.
“It’s serious ... it’s serious,” the solicitor said.
“He is not a fool.
“He made the mistake of not obeying the law by getting a licence.”
Magistrate Prowse granted strict condition bail with Gibson to post $10,000 in cash surety as well as surrender his passport.
The Department of Foreign Affairs will be notified in case he tries to travel internationally and Gibson will have to report to police three times a week. The case returns to court on November 13.