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Former rugby star accused of buying guns for Comancheros, faking burglary heads to trial

Author
Sandra Conchie,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Aug 2023, 4:07PM
 Photo / NZME
Photo / NZME

Former rugby star accused of buying guns for Comancheros, faking burglary heads to trial

Author
Sandra Conchie,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Aug 2023, 4:07PM

A former international rugby player accused of selling guns to a member of a notorious motorcycle gang and then faking a burglary to cover his tracks will defend the allegations at a jury trial.

Suppression orders remain in place for the man, who appeared in the Tauranga District Court today for a case review hearing in relation to five charges which are all denied.

The man cannot be identified but he is a retired professional who played on the world stage.

Court documents show the former player faces charges over five Alfa Carbine rifles he is alleged to have bought from two Auckland Gun City stores in June last year.

Those charges are obtained by deception (over $1000), making a false statement to the police that an offence had been committed and three charges of unlawful possession of firearms.

The NZ Herald has previously reported that detectives from a specialist firearms investigation team allege the defendant was a ‘‘straw buyer’' - a licensed owner who purchased the weapons on behalf of criminal associates who cannot legally buy them.

The Alfa Carbine rifles are typically sought after by gangs because they can be easily cut down to pistols - which are prized in the criminal community because they are easier to conceal and wield.

The former rugby player is alleged to have purchased the rifles with more than $10,000 given to him by a member of the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle club.

Three months later, in October 2022, the defendant allegedly laid a complaint with police that the firearms had been stolen.

The retired player also made a successful insurance claim for $11,345.

The defendant became the target of Operation Rackley, an investigation by the National Organised Crime Group, and was charged with unlawful possession of firearms, insurance fraud, and making a false complaint to police.

The defendant was remanded on bail to next appear in the Tauranga District Court on September 28 for a pre-trial hearing.

No trial date has yet been scheduled.

In June, a patched Comanchero was also arrested and charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

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