A Northern NSW man has faced court after he was found with a prohibited knife in his possession.
A Northern NSW man has faced court after he was found with a prohibited knife in his possession.

‘Naive’ purchase lands Byron man with weapon conviction

A BYRON Bay man has learnt the hard way products bought on the internet aren’t necessarily legal, even if they seem legitimate.

Byron Bay Local Court heard on Monday war veteran Stephen Matthew McCarthy, 51, had made no sly attempt to buy a weapon on the dark web.

He was so certain the push blade, purchased from a camping supplies seller on eBay, was legal, he often wore it on his body in plain view and used it during his work in remote communities.

Defence solicitor Tom Ivey told the court when his client was found with the blade in his possession on July 31 this year, he was shocked to learn it was classed as a prohibited weapon.

Even more shocking for Mr McCarthy was the realisation the offence carries up to 14 years behind bars, the court heard.

Mr Ivey said his client had made a “naive” purchase of what he believed to be a “survival-type instrument” and which he used as a mere tool.

“He very much accepts there’s a significant maximum penalty for this offence,” Mr Ivey said.

Magistrate Karen Stafford said the hefty maximum penalty for possessing a prohibited weapon highlights the seriousness of the offence and the potential for harm.

“I know it’s a small weapon (but it’s) easily concealable,” Ms Stafford said.

“I accept that you didn’t have it on your person to use against anyone.

“There’s a very strong need to send a message out to the community that there are many things online for sale but the law still applies.

“I deal with a lot of these charges where a person has bought (an item) online.

“That’s not a guarantee of legality.

“It is something that can inflict a great deal of harm.”

Ms Stafford accepted Mr McCarthy was “genuinely surprised” at the illegality of the 3.5cm double-edged blade.

Mr McCarthy was convicted and fined $500.