Charges imminent for Mediaworks host?

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THE GUN DEALER at the centre of the Heather du Plessis Allan firearms controversy has agreed to give evidence for the prosecution if the case goes to trial – and says he’s picking the broadcaster will be locked up for her ‘stupidity’.

Gun City owner David Tipple yesterday confirmed he had willingly been cooperating with police about the whole du Plessis Allan matter and would be giving evidence if she was eventually charged.

He believed on the strength of the evidence so far du Plessis Allan could very well be looking at a stint behind bars.

“I doubt very much in this case the courts are going to slap her over the hand with a wet bus ticket. They’ll make an example of her. I’m quite sure of that,” he said.

“The courts take a dim view of anyone who impersonates a police officer. It is a serious offence. I think they’ll take this very seriously.”

Du Plessis Allan is currently the focus of a police inquiry after using fake credentials and illegally assuming the identity of a police officer to purchase a firearm online in what she argued was an attempt to highlight a loophole in the mail order gun system.

This was despite there being no evidence of anyone ever purchasing a firearm illegitimately online.  

As a result, Du Plessis-Allan appears to have committed several offences under the Arms Act, the Crimes Act and the Policing Act 2008 – most notably by signing off her online application to buy the weapon using a fake police officers name.

Under section 48 of the Policing Act a person ‘commits an offence who, without reasonable excuse, and in circumstances likely to lead a person to believe that the person is a Police employee… assumes the name, designation, or description of a Police employee.”

If charged and convicted, du Plessis-Allan could face a term of one year’s imprisonment or a fine of up to $15,000.

Du Plessis-Allan took delivery of the $299 bolt-action rifle from Auckland store Gun City after providing a fake name and firearms licence number on documentation used for all online purchases.

By taking possession of the gun without a licence, automatically that would appear to constitute a breach of the Arms Act 1983 which can lead to a term of imprisonment of up to three months.

But for the TV3 anchor, the more serious offence involves the alleged dishonest use of a document to obtain the gun.

Under section 259 of the Crimes Act, a person can be jailed for up to 10 years for using an altered or reproduced document with intent to deceive.

When purchasing a firearm online, it is a requirement that the respective firearms licence must be sighted and verified as correct and current by a police representative.

On their website, Gun City also make it clear that for mail order purchases of firearms and ammunition, the law requires ‘you to send us a form that shows you have had a Police officer check that your firearms licence is valid’.

Tipple said it was clear that du Plessis Allan did not act alone and he hoped others involved in the ‘media stunt’ were charged also. He specifically referred to du Plessis Allan’s Story colleagues Fiona MacMillan and Jayne Devine who appear to have played at least some role in the controversy by either sanctioning or giving final signoff to the purchase of the firearm.

Tipple believed police were closely examining the role of du Plessis Allan’s colleagues with a view to charging not just the broadcaster but anyone else associated with what occurred.

He said he was still at a loss to understand why du Plessis Allan went ahead with the purchase when he had warned her at least four times what she was doing was illegal.

This, he said, was not about closing a loophole – it was an illegal act that proved absolutely nothing apart from the stupidity of TV3.

Tipple predicted that police would be laying charges within the next fortnight.


cookStephen Cook is a multi award winning journalist and former news editor and assistant editor of the Herald on Sunday.


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