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Gun collector taking police to court

Published: 8:26PM Thursday June 21, 2007 Source: One News

An Auckland gun collector is taking police to court for suspending his firearms licence and seizing 700 registered guns.

Police say the armoury was taken after bugged phone conversations involving Waikato gang houses.

But Martin Bath insists he has no gang connections and the seizure is hurting his business.

If he had seen it in the movies he wouldn't believe it. A few rubber stunt props are all that's left of Bath's million dollar gun collection.

Six months ago police seized 700 of his guns, a cache that's starred in many local and overseas films.

Bath's lawyer, Nicholas Taylor, says Bath has worked very hard to make a niche in the high-tech, futuristic gun market, and it's unique.

"My whole industry and reputation has just collapsed," says Bath.

His business is now bankrupt after the guns were taken in an 19 hour police raid on his property.

"To come to my house and scare my family and take all my stuff, every single thing with no reason," he says.

Taylor says it appears the police heard snippets of information from "all sorts of conversations" and says they have got the wrong end of the stick.

Eighty per cent of the guns in the collection are completely harmless, and are used as theatrical props.

"They're all made for the film industry. They were weapons or firearms but I've spent time converting them," says Bath.

Police say they're still trying to determine whether the firearms were illegally imported. a time consuming process that's on-going.

Taylor says long-term suspension of a gun licence is almost unheard of. "The six month suspended licence is most unusual."

He has filed a Police Complaints Authority report and on Friday Bath will launch a legal case against the police, asking for the return of all items seized.

"I'd like them all back. I'd like my licence back. I'd like my life back," he says.

He wants to return to the business he has known for 20 years in the world of fake firearms as seen in films.

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