Kungala bikie was ?set up? for guns stash

A KUNGALA man facing charges relating to the possession of firearms and weapons will claim he was set up by a malicious informer or the police, Coffs Harbour District Court was told yesterday.

Steven Gardiner, 48, is standing trial on one charge of possessing five unregistered, prohibited firearms and six counts of possessing prohibited weapons.

The firearms and weapons were found during a search of a storage unit at Hi-Tech Self Storage, Toormina, on November 20, 2002.

Defence counsel John Carty told the jury during a brief opening statement that Gardiner says he has no knowledge of the firearms found at the storage unit, which was leased to the Grafton chapter of the Gladiators Motorcycle Club.

Gardiner was the president of the Gladiators at the time but, according to Mr Carty, all members of the club had access to the facility.

Crown prosecutor Jon Baxter-Wright said the Crown would attempt to show Gardiner leased the unit and as a result the law required the defendant to prove he did not know, or could not reasonably be expected to know, the firearms were there.

The firearms ? one semi-automatic sawn-off rifle and four Chinese-made rifles ? were found in two unlocked metal boxes in the storage unit.

The weapons possession charges relate to other items found in the unit, including a silencer, a replica Smith and Wesson revolver, two extendable batons, a set of handcuffs and ammunition magazines.

More firearms were also found the same day during a search of the Gladiators' clubhouse in Turf Street, Grafton.

The charges Gardiner faces are related only to the items found at Toormina.

The trial continues today.

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