A 130-year-old gun will be returned to its owner after issues surrounding the storage of the prized family heirloom were aired in court.
Mervyn Fox, 85, fronted Ararat Magistrates' Court charged with failing to secure a firearm. He did not enter a plea.
The court heard Mr Fox kept a double-barrel shotgun that once belonged to his grandfather in a locked wooden cupboard in a bedroom at his property.
Police prosecutor David Cosgriff said though the firearm was locked away, the cupboard did not comply with the law.
"Mr Fox said himself: 'I know it's not a proper cupboard'," Mr Cosgriff said.
Mr Fox insisted the firearm was safe and said it had only been taken out of the cupboard twice in over 20 years.
"The gun is over 130 years old. It's been in that cupboard for 49 years," he said.
"The only time it has been taken out was 1995 to register it and 2002 to put a new serial number on it."
Mr Cosgriff sympathised with Mr Fox's position and said he understood the sentimental value of the firearm.
"Once diversion was served, we'd have no issues with the gun being returned," he said.
Mr Fox was recommended for diversion, which was initially met with some confusion.
A diversion program allows matters to be dealt with outside the court system and make require people to follow conditions like writing an apology letter, or making a donation. Such conditions were not discussed in Mr Fox's case.
If conditions are followed police drop the charges and there is no finding of guilt. The person will not have a criminal record.
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Magistrate Simon Zebrowski informed Mr Fox he was free to challenge the charge but risked losing the firearm if he lost.
"If you run it (through the court system) and win it then good for you, but the cost-benefit analysis is not in your favour," he said.
"Because it's your first time and its a minor offence you get a free-kick. You get a free kick in front of goal because of your good record, and then off you go.
"There is no finding of guilt."
After taking time to deliberate, Mr Fox agreed to a month-long diversion program.
"Ok, Mr Fox, after one month it's all gone. There is nothing negative against you, and you'll get your gun back," Mr Zebrowski said.
"You'll get everything back."
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