Two-time Olympic shooting gold medallist Michael Diamond has been acquitted of three firearms convictions that effectively ended his illustrious shooting career.
Diamond was found guilty of the offences in May this year, seeing him banned from holding a gun licence for 10 years.
He later lodged an appeal which a Newcastle court today upheld while quashing his local court convictions after a judge questioned the legality of a car search.
It was alleged the 45-year-old was involved in a domestic incident with his brother at Nelson Bay, before he was stopped by officers on the road.
Police said he refused to undergo a roadside breath test and when police searched his car they allegedly found a shotgun and 150 rounds of ammunition.
He was charged with high-range drink-driving, not keeping a firearm safe and using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.
A local court magistrate later convicted Diamond and he was then ruled ineligible for nomination for the Rio 2016 Olympics - an event he had previously competed in six times before.
Outside court Diamond said losing his spot in his seventh Olympics was a "costly price to pay" due to the 10-year gun licence ban.
He also said he hoped to get his firearms licence back immediately.
"I am relieved," he said.
"It's been a long 17 months.
"It's really good to see that common sense has prevailed today. It would be great to resume life back in the sport that I grew up with."
The trap shooter wants the Crown to pay his court costs, but has ruled out seeking compensation.
"I am just going to get on with my life and rebuild my image again."
Questions over police search
Judge Roy Ellis, who presided over the appeal, said police can conduct an on-the-spot search so long as a demand is made, but in this case no such demand was made.
Prosecutor PJ O'Brien continually argued Diamond had kept the firearm unsafe in his car and should have taken extra precautions to keep it safe.
However, Justice Ellis rejected those claims, saying the vehicle had tinted windows and the gun case held a dismantled gun not capable of firing.
"If the car had been unlocked, if the car had clear windows, if the gun was not disassembled, there would have been a clear argument to say it was unsafe," he said.
Mr O'Brien argued Diamond's high-range drink-driving reading heightened the level of danger which was again rejected by Justice Ellis.
"Even if you're drinking it doesn't mean you can't keep your firearm safe," the judge said.
Judge makes reference to Las Vegas shooting
Judge Ellis also referred to the latest US mass shooting in Las Vegas while considering Australia's rules governing the use of guns.
He said it highlighted the need for gun laws, but those laws must fit the crime.
"You only have to look at what happened in America yesterday to realise why we have our rules, but you can't give extended meaning to those rules," he said.
Justice Ellis said Diamond's conduct with his disassembled gun did not endanger anybody and he made reference to mass murderer Martin Bryant.
Bryant, who murdered 35 people in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, was also convicted of using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.
Justice Ellis noted that Bryant's actions amounted to handling a weapon dangerously, unlike those of Diamond who had a disassembled gun that was not loaded and was being transported from point A to B in a storage box.