Toronto's News, Free Daily News from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, National Post, CP24, CTV, Global, 640toronto, CFRB, 680 News
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Johnny gets his guns
TORONTO - He will soon get his guns back, but it will be a long hard road before he forgets what happened to him.
Aging biker Johnny Sombrero was all smiles as he exited 1000 Finch Ave. W. court Friday after all 18 charges of unsafe firearms storage against him were tossed. Surrounded by family and friends in the Black Diamond Riders he founded 60 years ago, Sombrero breathed a sigh of relief.
“My reaction to the verdict is: I told you so,” the 77-year-old whose real name is Harry Barnes said outside of court. “You’re damn right I’m pissed off. They’ve had my property for 17 months and this the 21st time I’ve been in court.”
On Jan. 21, 2010, Toronto Police raided Sombrero’s North York apartment and he alleges they roughed him up.
He says they held him at gunpoint for five hours before confiscating his collection and charged him for leaving the bolts inside his machine guns, even though the weapons were stored in lockers.
Sombrero said his finger was bent back by one of the cops and he suffered injuries to his ribs during the takedown. More than 100 weapons were seized, including automatic and semi-automatic weapons, leather, knives, bullets and scopes.
On Friday, Justice Carol Brewer dismissed the case.
“I find the cabinets in which the defendant’s prohibited firearms were stored fall within the definition of a safe,” the judge said in her decision. “Both of the lockers in which the prohibited firearms were stored were made of steel. Each cabinet was securely locked. The Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable double that there was non-compliance with the regulation.”
A gun expert for the defence testified Sombrero met or exceeded the requirement of safe storage laws.
“The ironic thing is a lot of the safes were bought at government auctions,” Sombrero’s lawyer David Costa said. “Parliamentarians owe a service to gun collectors to properly set out what it means to store weapons, what constitutes a safe, what constitutes a vault or specialized room.”
Sombrero has been a gun collector for half a century. The weapons will be returned early next week. Sombrero is pondering filing formal complaints against police about his arrest.
“This wouldn’t have happened in the U.S.,” he said. “But here, they charge you over and over again.”