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Preacher caught harbouring illegal pistols

Published: 5:42AM Friday May 04, 2012 Source: Fairfax

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Police discovered a New Plymouth evangelist was harbouring an arsenal of loaded pistols in his bedroom after Customs found he was illegally posting himself gun parts while visiting Waco, Texas.

Once caught, Rodney Kyle, 63, who describes himself as a retired evangelist, confessed to police he used a false name while visiting friends in Waco to post himself concealed pistol parts in packages containing religious books and clothes.

Kyle admitted one charge of unlawfully possessing a pistol and four of illegally importing firearms when he appeared in New Plymouth District Court yesterday.

Defence counsel Patrick Mooney told Judge Max Courtney that, although his client pleaded guilty, he asked for no conviction to be entered prior to an application being filed for a discharge without conviction.

The court was given no explanation of why he had the guns.

The police summary describes how, in December last year, Kyle's illegal importation operation was uncovered.

At the Auckland Mail Centre, the X-ray of a parcel revealed a Dixie derringer .22 calibre pistol - minus its firing cylinder - wrapped in tinfoil.

On January 18, the Foxton Mail Centre advised Customs it found a sock which had in it a 9-millimetre pistol sliding mechanism with a barrel and spring and an empty 9mm pistol magazine.

On January 19, Customs checked other packages from the same Texas address, finding another 9mm empty pistol magazine.

At one point, Kyle even used his church, the New Plymouth Church of Christ at 96 Waimea St, as a redirect address.

Further investigations led to emails to and from Kyle's email account and revealed that he was overseas when the packages were sent from Texas. The sender was an A John, which were Kyle's middle names.

When police searched his Hursthouse St home, they found in his bedside dresser drawer a fully loaded .22 Ruger pistol magazine. The serial number matched the seized 9mm pistol receiver.

In a locked wardrobe in the main bedroom was a cylinder for a Dixie derringer pistol, a 9mm pistol receiver and manual. In the bottom drawer of a dresser was a .22 calibre Ruger pistol and a fully loaded .22 Ruger magazine.

There were also legally owned firearms, four rifles, an air pistol rifle, and ammunition, the court was told. Kyle told police he got the pistols from friends in Texas and sent them back while overseas last year. He said he acted alone.

A .222 Ruger was posted to him from Texas seven or eight years ago.

He told them he had imported firearms in January 1980, 1995, 2005 and 2007, dismantling and wrapping them in tinfoil to avoid Customs searches. The judge remanded Kyle till May 23 to allow time for the application to be made and arguments heard.

Waco was the setting for a siege which began on February 28, 1993, and ended 51 days later when 75 people, most of the religious Branch Davidian sect, died, including more than 20 children and sect leader David Koresh, following a firefight with the FBI.