Three men are on trial accused of involvement in “a highly sophisticated” firearm heist that included the surveillance of one of Perth’s biggest gun shops and cutting through concrete walls.
- The three men deny involvement in the gun heist
- The trial will run for about four to six weeks
- It is Christian Porter’s first trial since announcing his retirement from politics
James Egan, 32, Ashely Christensen, 29 and Nicholas Ronzitti, 28, were charged following an investigation into the theft of 200 guns from the Claremont Firearms store on Erceg Road in the southern Perth suburb of Yangebup just before midnight on November 21, 2019.
The District Court was told the thieves gained entry to the vault where the firearms were kept through holes in two concrete walls – one that was likely to have been cut prior to the burglary.
Prosecutor Laura Christian SC said it was alleged the robbery was planned and that adjoining properties had been used to gain access to the shop.
She said CCTV footage from one of those premises in the weeks before had on a number of occasions captured figures in dark clothing moving around the courtyard, and that one of them also had their face covered.
The prosecutor also said a camera, which was facing the doors of the gun shop, was later found attached to another nearby building.
Man out walking found some guns buried
The court heard that four days after the robbery, a man going for a walk in the Beeliar national park during his lunchbreak, noticed tire marks leading into the bush.
When he investigated, he discovered a firearm magazine, a plastic case sticking out of the ground and a receipt with the name of the gun shop on it, so he called police.
Ms Christian said various items were found in six different holes, including some of the stolen guns.
The three men are also accused of stealing a vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, from another business to use in the robbery.
The court was told the vehicle was captured by CCTV cameras in the area on the night of the robbery before being set on fire in nearby Bibra Lake.
All three men deny involvement in the robbery.
Porter representing one of the accused
Mr Christensen is being represented by Mr Porter, who has resumed his legal career after delivering his final speech in parliament in March.
Mr Porter told the court his client maintained he did not commit any burglary or steal any firearms.
He said because Mr Christensen was presumed innocent, a principle which ensured fairness for every Australian, he did not have to prove anything in the trial.
The lawyer for Mr Ronzitti, Mark Trowell QC, said his client’s position was “outright denial”.
“He says he did not commit any of these criminal acts,” Mr Trowell submitted.
He also described the evidence against Mr Ronzitte as “flimsy” and “no more than suspicion”, adding that there was no physical evidence of him ever being at the crime scene or any of the adjoining premises.
Mr Egan’s lawyer, Michael Tudori, said his client also maintained his innocence and he urged the jury members to keep an open mind and not rush to conclusions before considering their verdicts.
The trial is scheduled to run between four and six weeks.
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