Charity workers' shocking find in donation bin
A TEAM of Lifeline workers was left stunned when they found a loaded Sturm Ruger Magnum revolver stashed in a shoe box in a donation bin.
Volunteers sifting through the donation bin on Herries St made the shocking find early on Monday morning.
A worker spotted the butt of the holstered revolver while sorting through a box of shoes as part of the workday routine.
Later found to be a replica, Lifeline Darling Downs and Southwest Queensland safety advisor Craig Lincoln said the revolver looked and felt like a working .44 Magnum.
"It's the sort of thing we don't expect to get donated," said Mr Lincoln, a former gun club member.
"A volunteer had been unloading one of the charity bins at our Herries St store when he came across the box of shoes.
"He opened the bag and saw the butt of the gun which was in a holster.
"He called me as the safety advisor and I took a look and then called police."
Brass bullets were found loaded in the chamber.
"It looked pretty real to me," Mr Lincoln said.
"It took police about 20 minutes to free up the mechanism so they could take the bullets out which were found to be replicas," Mr Lincoln said.
"That's when they looked in the barrel."
Toowoomba City Patrol Group Inspector Stephen Angus said initial inquiries suggested the replica revolver and five empty ammunition shells were put in the donation bin sometime over the weekend.
"It's a weapon for all intents and purposes and if it was pointed at you, you would think it was the real thing," Insp. Angus said.
"The replica is that good it would be indistinguishable from a working firearm.
"It would be impossible to tell the difference."
Insp. Angus hit out at the gun owner's actions which he said would have shocked the Lifeline volunteer and potentially endangered their lives if the gun had been functional.
"Possession of that firearm is illegal and people shouldn't have it," he said.
"The gun amnesty does apply which means there is no point endangering or alarming others by placing it in a charity bin.
"There's no need whatsoever during the amnesty to take that action and dump it."
The national firearm amnesty runs until September 30.
Mr Lincoln said while the volunteer had been shocked at the discovery he commended his calm approach to the situation.
"As soon as we saw it, we didn't touch it," Mr Lincoln said.
"We've had the occasional knife put in the donation bin and things like that, but never a gun like this.
"It's the first time I've ever heard of anything like this happening."