A Port Kembla firearms dealer who trafficked hundreds of guns on the black market, one of which was used in a fatal gangland shooting in Sydney, told police he was "relieved" to have finally been caught.
Shane Simpson ran the sophisticated racket undetected from his Wentworth Street shop, Simpson Sports, for six years before police swooped on him in an early morning raid on April 10, 2019.
Police have not revealed how they first became aware of the enterprising venture, however documents tendered to Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday said detectives managed to link 279 pistols to the scam by trawling through more than half a decade's worth of shonky NSW Firearms Registry records.
Simpson used the geographical boundary of the registry to avoid detection by creating fake entries in the licencing database claiming the guns had been sold interstate. In Australia, each state is responsible for maintaining it's own firearms registry and there is no integrated national system to track the sales of guns in real time across state borders.
Court documents said of the 279 pistols illegally sold between February 2013 and April 2019, only 10 have been recovered by police and all were found at active crimes scenes, some as far away as Brisbane and Adelaide.
The most high-profile discovery was a Glock 17A pistol allegedly used in a drive-by at Greystanes last February and again in a fatal bikie shooting at Doonside in May.
The serial number, which had been defaced, was traced back to inventory purchased by Simpson, but which he claimed he'd sold to a dealer in South Australia two years earlier.
Prosecutors do not alleged, nor is there any evidence that Simpson was aware the firearms would be used in any specific offence.
When arrested, Simpson said he was relieved the scam was at an end, telling police he'd been "pushed and pushed for a long time" and that he wasn't "doing it because I wanted to do it".
"I don't know if this is wrong to say or not but I'm relieved and kind of half happy that it's over; not that I [did] it but that it's finished," he said.
Simpson made a number of confessions to police during a subsequent interview, confirming he had sold the pistols for cash, and that before each one left the store he had used an angle grinder to remove the serial numbers so they couldn't be traced back to him.
However, he refused to tell police to whom he had sold the firearms, other than to say he had never physically seen the buyer or buyers.
Simpson initially faced almost 200 charges however prosecutors amalgamated the offences and Simpson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to seven ongoing gun supply charges representing each year he was active.
He remains behind bars and will be sentenced next month.