A Bega teenager has been jailed for stealing guns used to kill a number of native animals near Candelo.
Police documents state Matthew Robert Whitby told two friends they were to borrow firearms from a property owned by his former employer to go shooting.
The group went to the South Wolumla property between August 8-10 and entered a shed, where the 19-year-old found a key to a gun safe in the shed and took five firearms as well as ammunition.
The guns included a double barrelled 12 gauge shot gun, a Winchester 30-30 calibre rifle and three other calibre rifles.
In the days following the theft, Whitby and several others went to an area outside Candelo known as “the Common” and shot the guns, killing a number of wombats and other native wildlife.
On one occasion, a member of the group took a Snapchat photo of Whitby holding the Winchester.
On August 17, police attended a home in Candelo where four of the guns were being held and seized the weapons, also arresting Whitby on the same day.
When police interviewed one of his friends, they said he had hidden the Winchester in bushland at “the Common”.
During a search of the bushland on August 18, this last rifle was found.
On October 25, Whitby appeared in Bega Local Court over audio visual link.
While he originally pleaded not guilty, he later changed his plea to guilty for larceny, using a stolen firearm, possessing unauthorised firearms and possessing ammunition without a licence.
“In this climate everyone was very understandably alarmed; alarmed and very conscious of firearms coming to the wrong kind of people,” Magistrate Susan McGowan said in court.
The wrong kind of people, she said, were those without a gun licence.
During sentencing, the magistrate took into account Whitby’s age and said young men in particular “do things considered silly”.
“I hope the recent events indicate to Mr Whitby there is no future in criminal behaviour,” she said.
Wearing a green jacket, Whitby kept his arms crossed and stared straight ahead for most of the hearing. The only sound he made was a long, drawn-out sigh when his sentence was announced.
He was jailed for 12 months starting from August 18 and will be eligible for parole in May 2017.
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