What are the Defences and Penalties for Being Armed With an Offensive Weapon in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

Anger is an emotion that is able to make us react in various ways. Sometimes, it arrives in a quick flash, momentarily causing our heart rate to increase in irritation before shortly fleeting, like when people refuse to follow directions. At other times, where boundaries are crossed, it can turn into full-blown rage, such as when people throw offensive comments at us.

And then of course, there are the more bizarre cases, where anger reaches such high levels that it outright causes us to act in eccentric extremes. Much like the incident last week where it’s alleged that a Coogee man who, in a fit of rage triggered by being parked in by a crane, according to news reports allegedly decided to fire a high-powered ‘crossbow’ at construction workers in Randwick.

It has been alleged that just after midday on October 4, 2018, calls were made to Randwick police describing a frightening scene whereby a man was spotted wandering around shirtless, armed with a hunting bow in one hand, and a beer in the other.

It has been reported that the 47-year-old man was angry after being parked in by a crane, unable to move. In his rage, the man allegedly started firing what appears from images to actually be a ‘bow and arrow’ (as opposed to a crossbow) at workers.

Officers from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command were quick to arrive to the scene on Carrington Road, Randwick, where they arrested the man in his front yard and seized the weapon.

“Really, really angry”: Reports Reveal that Man Threatens to Shoot Construction Workers

In video obtained by 9NEWS, a man was seen emerging from his home in the eastern Sydney suburb, carrying what news reports describe as a ‘crossbow’. However, upon a closer look at the images the item actually appears to be a compound bow and arrow, as opposed to a ‘crossbow’.

It’s reported that he then started yelling out to the workers who had confined his car, saying, “You’re s******* yourself hey. You f****** ****. You’re **** s**** yourself.”

Meanwhile, the workers across the road began laughing in bewilderment. Upon ignoring the armed man, the man then fit an arrow to the bow, shadowing the building site in a threatening manner.

A worker was then heard screaming, “Oi, don’t shoot it, bro.”

Following this, the man seems to fire an arrow.

According to witness Lyall Maloney, the man was initially “really, really angry.”

However, afterwards, he was strangely acting like he was “being a hero – like it was just ego.”

Police said there were no reports of any injuries.

The man was taken to Maroubra Police Station where he was questioned.

Man Charged with Using an Offensive Weapon with Intent and other Charges

Following the incident, police executed a search warrant at the man’s Randwick premises, where they allegedly discovered more arrows and arrow heads.

It has also been reported that hydroponics equipment was also uncovered, as well as an amount of steroids, cannabis and cannabis resin.

further reports reveal that the man has since been charged with using an offensive weapon with intent to commit indictable offence, possession of a prohibited drug, and use premises as drug premises.

The Defences and Penalties for Being Armed with Intent to Commit Indictable Offence in NSW

A person guilty of being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence in NSW faces a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction under section 114 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

You will be guilty of being armed with intent charge if the prosecution can prove:

  1. You had an ‘offensive weapon’ in your immediate physical possession (or you were holding it); and
  2. At that time, you intended to commit an ‘indictable offence’, which can include any offence that carries a penalty of at least 5 years imprisonment, such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or wounding, destroy or damage property, or possess or use a ‘prohibited weapon’ offence.

The charge of being armed with intent will be dismissed if any of the following defences apply:

  • Where at the time of being armed with an ‘offensive weapon’ (or ‘dangerous weapon’) you were so intoxicated from alcohol or drugs that you were incapable of having the intention to commit an ‘indictable offence’. This defence will not apply if you purposely consumed alcohol or drugs to build up to courage to commit the offence or where you resolved to commit the offence before consuming alcohol or drugs.
  • Mental illness Defence: You will be not guilty if you were suffering a mental illness which caused you to be unable to know the quality or nature of what you were doing, or where you didn’t appreciate that what you were doing was right or wrong at the time.
  • Self Defence: You will be not guilty if your actions were done because you believed it was necessary to protect yourself, and if your response was reasonable in the circumstances that you had perceived it to be at the time.

Schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW) defines a ‘crossbow’ as “a device consisting of a bow fitted transversely on a stock that has a groove or barrel designed to direct an arrow or bolt.” It does not specify a ‘bow and arrow’ to be a prohibited weapon.

A crossbow is considered under the law as a ‘prohibited weapon’ which is also a type of ‘dangerous weapon’ which requires a permit to have or use one under the law which is governed by the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW).

A ‘dangerous weapon’ also comes under the broader definition of an ‘offensive weapon’ under section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

An ‘offensive weapon’ on the other hand can include weapons that are not regulated or governed by the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW). In other words, a permit to have or use all ‘offensive weapons’ is not necessarily required in NSW.

An ‘offensive weapon’ can include a ‘bow and arrow’ if it fits the following description:

  1. “Anything that is made or adapted for offensive purposes, or anything that, in the circumstances, is used, intended for use or threatened to be used for offensive purposes, whether or not it’s ordinarily used for offensive purposes or is capable of causing harm.”; or
  2. Anything that’s made or adapted for offensive purposes.

A ‘bow and arrow’ therefore does not require a permit to use or possess one, but it can be considered an ‘offensive weapon’ in the above circumstances.

Defences and Penalties for Possess or Use of a Prohibited Weapon Offence in NSW

In NSW, crossbows are a prohibited weapon. They can be very dangerous weapons as demonstrated from the attack on two schoolgirls near Port Stephens, north of Sydney, who were seriously injured after being shot with a crossbow in 2003.

The possession and use of crossbows and other prohibited weapons is governed by the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 and the Weapons Prohibition Regulation 2017.

Accordingly, possession or use of this item must be authorised by a permit. A permit to possess or use a prohibited weapon can be granted if there is a ‘genuine reason’ for it under section 11 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW). The legislation and regulations outline the kinds of ‘genuine reasons’ that such a permit can be given for.

A person guilty of possessing or using a prohibited weapon offence will face a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment with a criminal conviction under section 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW).

You will be guilty of possessing or using a prohibited weapon charge if the prosecution proves that:

  • You possessed or used a prohibited weapon without an authorised permit; or
  • You possessed or used a prohibited weapon with an authorised permit but did so in breach of the conditions of the permit or for a purpose other than the purpose for which you were granted a permit (for a genuine reason for possessing or using it).

A possess or use of a prohibited weapons charge will be dismissed in court if any of the following defence apply:

  1. You used the prohibited weapon for a genuine reason and in a way authorised under the permit. This can be for the following kinds of reasons:
    • Animal welfare
    • Security
    • Pest or animal control
    • Target shooting or recreational hunting or sport
    • Business or employment, such as a police officer
    • RSPCA or vet
    • Theatrical, film or artistic reasons
  2. Self-Defence: which is outlined earlier in this blog

Contrary to news reports, the shirtless man does not appear to be carrying a ‘prohibited weapon’ (crossbow). Closer inspection of the images taken appears to depict a ‘bow and arrow’ which appears to be used for an offensive purposes (which can be categorised as an ‘offensive weapon’ under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Any questions arising from this blog? We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Our experienced team appear in all Court. We also have criminal defence lawyers in Wollongong, Newcastle and Penrith.

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