On a calm and sunny Saturday morning a group of residents were cleaning up a reserve near Cabramatta Creek at Liverpool when someone found a plastic bag with a handgun and ammunition in it.
The group were taking part in the regular campaign, Clean up the Wild, which was founded by wildlife rescuer Kane Durrant and his family.
The campaign aims to clean up local parks in a bid to save the environment and wildlife from litter.
Fairfield resident Charles Gream said he found a plastic bag with cleaning cloths and a grim-looking weapon in it on February 17, about five metres off the footpath close to the Elizabeth Drive bridge.
The active 74-year-old regularly gets involved in clean-up campaigns in his spare time, which keeps him fit and serves as an opportunity to “give back to the community”.
“I live in Cabramatta and when I read about this clean-up campaign I was absolutely delighted because the rubbish from Liverpool comes to Cabramatta. Rubbish is a problem here, but it’s a problem everywhere. Liverpool is my next-door neighbour and I love it, so I went along,” Mr Gream said.
“Then I came across a bag with ammunition and a handgun. Thank God for mobile phones! I rang Liverpool police about it.”
Police were contacted and assessed the scene shortly before collecting the weapon. He said while it was an exciting twist to the day, he was also thankful children didn’t find it.
“The police were exceptional and I thought their response was fantastic. Two officers came along and took it away. I’ve lived in the area for 50 years and I’ve done clean-ups along Cabramatta Creek before but that was the most exciting day I’ve ever had.
“I thought perhaps what we found could’ve been linked to a crime and that we could’ve helped. I’m happy we got to it first because children could have – and there was ammunition.”
Rachael Durrant, who helped organise the day said children were in the group including her daughter, 12.
“It was a bit of a shock and seeing the gun was distracting for the rest of the day. We weren’t expecting to find anything like that. But at least it was one less thing littering the park,” she said.
“My daughter thought it was weird to find it in a place where a lot of people walk past and was intrigued because it’s nothing like she’s ever seen before. We were all wondering how it got there.
“I think we all realised it could’ve been very dangerous if a child found it. It’s pretty disgusting of the person who dumped it, to put it in a family area.”
She said the whole clean-up was a success.
“All in all, we found about 10 trolleys, three dumped bikes, a front bumper off a car, tyres and there were about 400 bottles. We got $32 from the Return & Earn scheme, which was donated to wildlife conservation. We also found a dumped stroller, a baby car seat and collected a total of 20 or so garbage bags filled with rubbish.
“We called the council to pick up the rubbish. Although they found it hard to locate the rubbish, they’ve been pretty supportive by donating biodegradable garbage bags and boxes. Then Bunnings fed us with a barbecue at the end!”
Liverpool police crime manager Dean Johnstone said after assessing the weapon, police found the gun but it was unusable.
“The firearm was seized in a very poor condition. It was not operable as it was rusted with several parts missing. However, it will be further examined by the forensics unit,” he said.
“It was good the residents contacted police. They took ideal action. My advice to anyone who comes across a weapon is don’t touch it and contact police who’ll do the necessary checks.”