MICHAEL Diamond has vowed to return to competitive shooting and represent Australia at his seventh Olympic Games after he was acquitted of three firearm offences in Newcastle District Court on Thursday.
The charges forced Diamond to miss the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and the subsequent convictions and 10-year firearm ban threatened to cut short his illustrious shooting career.
But on Thursday, Diamond, 45, who was represented by specialist firearms solicitor Glenn Kable, had his convictions quashed and his ban overturned after an appeal in Newcastle District Court.
And the two-time Olympic gold medalist said his focus now was on restoring his reputation, restoring his firearms licence and getting back into the sport he loves.
“I am relieved," Diamond said outside court. “It's been a long 17 months. It's really good to see that common sense has prevailed today.”
When asked when he would apply to have his firearms licence reinstated, Diamond replied: “Immediately, hopefully … It would be great to resume life back in the sport that I grew up with”.
He said after that he planned to resume shooting “at competitive level, at elite level”, with the ultimate goal a spot on the Australian team at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
Diamond said he had paid a “hefty fee” for his firearm convictions and lamented Magistrate Caleb Franklin’s decision not to expedite a hearing last year so he could qualify for the Rio Games. “It was a very costly price to pay, being my seventh Olympic Games and a possible flag-bearer,” Diamond said. “However, the circumstances were that at the time and I had to wear it.”
Mr Franklin found Diamond guilty in May of four offences, including not keeping a firearm safely, handling or using a firearm under the influence of alcohol and high-range drink driving, after a “domestic dispute” at his brother’s Nelson Bay home in May last year.
Police later found Diamond out of his car on Shoal Bay Road.
A search of the vehicle revealed a disassembled gun in its case and ammunition loose in the car, the court heard. He was later breath-tested and returned a reading of 0.159.
Diamond lodged an all-grounds appeal against the firearm convictions and this week Judge Roy Ellis picked apart the prosecution case against the Olympian, ultimately upholding the appeal and quashing the convictions and ban.
Judge Ellis listed a number of precautions Diamond had taken to ensure the safety of the firearm and said the prosecution had failed to prove Diamond “handled” the firearm while drunk.