'We'll be in touch': The shocking video that turned Shane into a black market gun dealer

Shane Simpson's first infraction of the law was a small one.

It was 2012 and a hunting enthusiast shopping at his Port Kembla store, Simpson Sports, asked him for some air rifle pellets for his dad.

Simpson sold him a tin without checking if he was licensed.

The same man came back into the shop not long after and asked Simpson to put together a bolt from a .22 Rimfire rifle.

Simpson reassembled the device and handed it back to the owner, again without checking whether he had a licence to possess such equipment.

It was then things escalated exponentially.

A man of European appearance entered the shop just after Christmas 2012 and quietly showed Simpson a short video.

Police raid Simpson Sports Firearms and Hunting Specialist store at Port Kembla, seizing hundreds of guns. Pictures: Adam McLean

Police raid Simpson Sports Firearms and Hunting Specialist store at Port Kembla, seizing hundreds of guns. Pictures: Adam McLean

The footage showed the barrel of the Rimfire - which contained the same bolt he'd put together a few months earlier - being held to the back of a person's head. An unknown gunman then pulled the trigger.

The man's message to Simpson was simple: "we'll be in touch".

Eight weeks later, Simpson was sent a letter that read "we know where you live, we know you have a wife and children, we want handguns".

An unknown person then phoned him at the shop two days later, telling him "you know what we're capable of, we want pistols".

Simpson acted, saying he feared for his family's safety if he refused.

He removed the serial numbers on two pistols, packaged them up in a black plastic bag and left them on the footpath in the one-way street opposite his shop, as directed.

Over the following six years, Simpson trafficked 276 guns in identical fashion. Only 10 have been recovered by police and all were found at active crimes scenes, some as far away as Brisbane and Adelaide.

The most high-profile discovery was a Glock 17A pistol allegedly used in a drive-by at Greystanes in February 2019 and again in a fatal bikie shooting at Doonside in May that year.

The serial number, which had been defaced, was traced back to inventory purchased by Simpson, but which he claimed he'd sold to a dealer in South Australia two years earlier.

In Wollongong District Court on Thursday, Simpson said he never knew where the guns were going or who was picking them up, but suspected they were being used in illegal activity.

He said the unknown persons would sometimes leave cash payments for him, but it was always about half of what the pistols were worth.

When asked why he hadn't reported the matter to police at the outset, he replied "I didn't trust them to look after the safety of my family".

He went on to say on the few occasions he tried to stop supplying the guns - by simply failing to leave them at the drop-off point - he would receive a threatening phone call the next day.

"They said 'you know what we're capable of'," he said.

"Did you infer something serious would happen to you?" Defence barrister Winston Terracini SC asked Simpson.

"Yes, me or my family," he said.

Documents tendered to the court did not reveal how police came to learn of Simpson's activity but said detectives trawled through more than half a decade's worth of shonky NSW Firearms Registry records in their investigation to identify illegally sold guns.

The court heard Simpson used the geographical boundary of the registry to avoid detection by creating fake entries in the licencing database, claiming the guns had been sold interstate.

In Australia, each state is responsible for maintaining its own firearms registry and there is no integrated national system to track the sales of guns in real time across state borders.

Simpson was arrested in April 2019 and charged with nearly 200 offences.

He subsequently entered into a plea deal with prosecutors resulting in him admitting to seven ongoing gun supply charges, representing each year he was active.

Simpson remains behind bars and will be sentenced on July 10.

This story 'We'll be in touch': The shocking video that turned Shane into a black market gun dealer first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.