13 Dec 2013

Military panel considers verdict in Semtex case

4:52 am on 13 December 2013

A military panel is considering its verdict over whether an SAS soldier stole Defence Force property including the plastic explosive Semtex.

The 29-year-old soldier, who has name suppression, has pleaded not guilty at a court martial at Papakura Military Camp in Auckland to charges of stealing and unlawfully possessing Defence Force ammunition and equipment.

Lead prosecutor Major Peter Brock said on Thursday that the soldier knew he was selling military property when he took items including a gun's cocking handle and a pistol holster to an Auckland gun shop.

Major Brock said the soldier also must have taken the ammunition and Semtex that were found in his garage.

But the soldier's lawyer, Melinda Mason, said the items were identical to those her client had bought himself and at some stage had become mixed up.

Ms Mason said there was no opportunity for him to take the Semtex and someone else must have put it in the garage, which was unlocked.

On Thursday morning, the prosecution withdrew one charge against the soldier of breaching written orders by storing ammunition in his garage, saying it wasn't possible to prove that the garage was Defence Force accommodation.