NSW police have been accused of fining people more than $500 for legally carrying hunting knives that were packed away in their cars.
Sporting Shooters has been told pig hunters had their knives confiscated after being pulled over during the Easter weekend, when police were believed to be cracking down on hunters.
One hunter said he and his companion had knives packed in a bag in the vehicle, which police asked to see before they issued fines of $550 for each knife.
However, there appears to be nothing in NSW law that supports the police actions, either under the Summary Offences Act or the prohibited weapons legislation.
While possession of a knife in NSW can be a criminal offence, the law says “it is a reasonable excuse … for a person to have custody of a knife [during] participation in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport” or during travel to or from the activity.
In other words, hunting is a lawful reason to possess a knife, and that includes having one packed in your vehicle when travelling to or from a hunt.
Proof of a reasonable excuse lies with the person who has the knife, and if the police do not accept the excuse at the time, they can issue the fine and the person would have to go to court to prove his or her case.
The costs of defending the charge in court would run to several thousand dollars.
Police confirmed that two offences for “not display lawful excuse for knife in public place” were issued over the Easter weekend in the Branxton area, and this appears to be the same incident.
The offences did not relate to prohibited weapons.
Meanwhile, a NSW man is in hospital after being shot in the leg in what appears to be a hunting accident over the weekend.
A 31-year-old has been charged over the shooting, but few details of the incident have been released.