Lance Victor Tracy jailed in Armidale District Court for O'Dell St, Armidale, raid by New England police in June, 2016

GUN HO: The Ruger pistol seized during the New England police raid in O'Dell St in Armidale on June 7, 2016. Photo: NSW Police
GUN HO: The Ruger pistol seized during the New England police raid in O'Dell St in Armidale on June 7, 2016. Photo: NSW Police

A FORMER council worker who had a cache of guns exposed during a police raid will spend up to five years behind bars.

Lance Victor Tracy won’t be eligible for release for at least two-and-a-half years after he was jailed for long list of weapons and drugs offences.

He smiled and waved at family seated in Armidale District Court as he was led back into custody where he has been since he was arrested in a raid by New England police on June 7, last year. 

Judge Deborah Payne said Tracy’s risk of re-offending “can only be said to be between fair and reasonable.

“The prospects of rehabilitation are guarded,” she told the court in sentencing. “He's 51 years old and engaged in this serious offending.”

Police knocked on the door of an O’Dell St, Armidale, house about 5.20am to serve a firearms prohibition notice on Tracy when the weapons were uncovered.

The prospects of rehabilitation are guarded,” she told the court in sentencing. He's 51 years old and engaged in this serious offending.

Judge Deborah Payne

Inside an old oven that had been converted to a safe, officers found a Ruger .357 pistol and the chamber along with another chamber for another .38 calibre firearm and ammunition.

Hidden in a wooden cabinet in the basement, a .30 calibre rifle was found, as well as a 303 calibre rifle. 

None of the firearms had ever been registered, Tracey didn’t hold a firearms licence and none were stored properly. More ammunition was discovered across several toolboxes in the basement as well as a magazine for a M16 automatic rifle. 

Under the stairs in the basement, a .222 calibre rifle was found wrapped in a bed sheet with a scope attached. Checks revealed the registered gun had been stolen from an Armidale home in 2013.

Inside a shoe box, a magazine with a capacity to fire up to ten rounds, as well as a rifle bolt, ice pipes, and several firecrackers were also found in the house along with a trench knife with a metal knuckle duster attached.

A receipt for a temporary drivers licence in another name was also found. Tracey told officers he “was given this by mates” and told police the mates were “Rebels OMCG members”.

More than 3.5g of amphetamine, cannabis seeds, ice as well as ecstasy tablets were also seized.

Legal Aid solicitor Wendy McAuliffe said in written submissions that “none of the the firearms were loaded, all were kept hidden, the pistol in particular was kept in a safe”. 

She said that the community would have concerns about “gun violence” and that not safely securing firearms “leaves the community vulnerable”.

But she said there was no evidence to suggest Tracy “was in any way part of any criminal activity”.

Ms McAuliffe said Tracy had shown remorse through admissions to police at the scene, had started drinking at the age of eight, used drugs throughout his life, had suffered a heart attack in custody but had been employed for 16 years.

She said he had apologised and admitted “he should have known better”.

“He put his family, neighbours, community and police at risk by having these drugs and firearms in the home,” Ms McAuliffe said, referring to a report before the court.

She said he lost his job in April “and then two months later the search warrant was executed”.

He put his family, neighbours, community and police at risk by having these drugs and firearms in the home.

Solicitor Wendy McAuliffe

“The relationship really is the escalation of his drug use,” she told the court.

DPP solicitor Sue Hynes said the possession of a pistol carried a maximum sentence of 14 years which “reflected the serious” nature of the offence, and said his criminal record, which included reckless wounding, dis-entitled him to leniency.

She acknowledged he had made admissions and pleaded guilty early but said the prospects of rehabilitation were concerning because although “he does appear to regret his conduct” he had done nothing about intervention to address his drug problems.

“Unsurprisingly ... his insight into his offending is relatively limited,” she said.

Judge Payne imposed a head sentence of five years for the string of offences with a minimum of two-years-and-six-months behind bars.

After time served he will be eligible for parole in December, 2018.