Access to weapons on eBay ‘disturbing’

An “unbelievably naive” Castlemaine man who bought weapons and explosives on eBay has avoided more jail time.

Phillip Marsh, 36, was sentenced to 15 months’ jail, wholly suspended for 18 months, in the Victorian County Court yesterday.

Judge Lance Pilgrim said he had suspended the sentence because Marsh had already served 135 days of pre-sentence detention.

Last week Marsh pleaded guilty to six counts of possessing an explosive substance, three counts of possessing a prohibited weapon and single counts of making an explosive substance, intention to commit an indictable offence and theft.

Police began their investigation of Marsh in July last year after being notified of someone buying large quantities of explosive equipment and military paraphernalia on eBay.

A “spectacular” search of Marsh’s Etty Street home – which involved suited members of VicPol’s bomb squad – on July 27 last year uncovered large amounts of explosive materials.

Weapons were also found including an anti-personnel mine and grenade launcher, as well as Kevlar vests and helmets.

The sensational nature of Marsh’s arrest led to him being dubbed “the Castlemaine bomber”.

Judge Pilgrim said Marsh’s intentions – as a mining enthusiast and weapons collector – were far less sinister, but police had to be very careful.

“They had to be cautious because of the nature of what was to be seized,” he said.

“In the media there are daily reports of terrorists and terrorist groups.

“That probably related to the spectacular arrest – they didn’t know what to expect.”

Judge Pilgrim said it was later discovered that Marsh’s collection of the weapons and materials was “unsophisticated” and done with no malicious intent.

But he said it was “mind-boggling” and “deeply disturbing” that Marsh had been able to get his hands on the items so easily.

“You were naive to almost an unbelievable level,” he said.

“You simply surfed the net to find the explosives and weapons. It was simplistic, stupid and naive behaviour.

“That people are able to access with ease these materials and equipment is unsettling.”

Judge Pilgrim said he was confident Marsh would not reoffend, but he had to consider general deterrence

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