QCAT upholds decision to ban firearm licence of man whose stolen gun was used to murder police officer

Queensland police have successfully defended its decision to ban a man whose guns were stolen and used to murder a police officer and commit a drug offence 20-years ago from holding a firearms licence.

The Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal (QCAT) in a recently published decision upheld the Queensland Police Services decision to revoke the firearms licence of Geoffrey John Hazleton.

The tribunal was told Hazelton’s “firearms storage facility’’ was broken into two-decades ago and that one of the weapons was later used in the slaying of a police office.

QCAT member Bevan Hughes, in a nine-page decision published on Friday (April 23), said the QPS revoked Hazleton’s firearms licence and has that he requested the Tribunal review that decision.

“Twenty years ago, Geoffrey Hazelton’s firearm storage facility was broken into while he was in Hong Kong… (and) firearms were stolen,” Mr Huges said.

“Tragically, one of the stolen firearms was used to murder a police officer and another used for drug offences.

“Although Mr Hazelton said he believed his facility had complied with secure storage requirements, it did not … (and he) did not substantially upgrade or modify his storage facility.

“Years went by until in 2017, Mr Hazelton applied for a firearms licence and declared that his storage facility complied with the Weapons Act 1990 (Qld).

The tribunal was told a year later the QPS found Hazelton to be in possession of 37 “category A, B and C weapons’’ not properly secured at his residence.

The QPS also located either five or two unregistered firearms, including a single barrel shotgun with altered serial numbers.

“Mr Hazelton was fined $1,000.00 on all charges from this incident, with no conviction recorded. Mr Hazelton has no other criminal history,’’ Mr Hughes said.

“The QPS then revoked Mr Hazelton’s firearms licence. Mr Hazelton has applied to the Tribunal to review the decision.’’

Hazelton, in his submissions to QCAT, argued he required a firearms licence because he operates a rural property and needed them as an occupation requirement for rural purposes.

Mr Hughes, in his findings, said: “The principle underlying (Queensland’s) Weapons Act is that weapon possession and use are subordinate to the need to ensure public and individual safety … and the object of the Act is to prevent the misuse of weapons.’’

“Unfortunately for Mr Hazelton, his otherwise good character is not sufficient to displace the Act’s paramount concerns.

“The nature and seriousness of the offending behaviour and contravention of the licence conditions, together with his lack of insight into the responsibilities and requirements of weapons ownership are sufficient to show a real risk to public and individual safety.’’

“The correct and preferable decision it to confirm the decision of the Queensland Police Service – Weapons Licensing dated 23 July 2019 to revoke the firearm of licence of Geoffrey John Hazelton.’’

Read the full QCAT decision here: https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2021/QCAT21-125.pdf

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