Pressreader- Biker News
The longtime friend of a Rebels bikie enforcer has been jailed for stashing military weapons for the club’s boss.
Matthew Robert Bentley, 38, was sentenced in the County Court to a minimum 14 months’ jail after pleading guilty to charges including possessing a trafficable quantity of unregistered firearms. Bentley allowed Matthew Bruce to use his garage to store four guns — including two military-grade weapons — while Bruce tried to sell one of them for $25,000.
Police found an assault rifle inside a guitar case and 406 cartridges for it when they raided Bentley’s Melton South home early on January 29, 2019. A .303 rifle was also uncovered, along with a cutdown .22 rifle and a sawn-off shotgun.
Three of the guns had been modified to make them more concealable, and the .22 rifle was modified to enable it to fit a silencer.
Judge William Stuart said the weapons were of “considerable lethality”.
“Both the assault weapon and the .303 were military weapons designed to use cartridges that would go through human beings,” he said.
Bentley told the court Bruce asked him to store the guns because he was banned from having them by the firearm prohibition law.
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The forklift driver said he owed Bruce, who had previously sold him ice, some cash. He thought doing him the favour would enable him to get cheaper drugs in future.
He also said he was intimidated by Bruce, a claim Judge Stuart said he didn’t believe after hearing of intercepted telephone calls between Bentley and Bruce in the days before the raid. During the calls, Bruce said he wanted to pick up the assault rifle so he could test it in Wombat State Forest before selling it.
The court heard the calls also disproved Bentley’s claim he didn’t know anything about the type of guns, and hadn’t looked in the bags Bruce had put in his garage.
Judge Stuart said the phone conversations, in which Bentley and Bruce talked about the “guitar” — a code for the assault rifle — made it clear Bentley “well knew” about the weapon.
The court heard Bruce’s partner, Cursty Shields, had also told authorities she had seen Bentley holding the assault rifle in Bruce’s garage.
On Monday this week, Bruce was sentenced to a maximum of 22 months in jail, having already served 142 days, and fined $1000.
Bentley is serving at least 15 years for drugs, firearms and other offences.