The long-running legal saga of a bikie who fired a gun towards a group of men, hitting one in the leg, in a residential Canberra suburb when trying to enforce a drug debt has finally come to a close.
Christopher Cunningham, 34, from Calwell, appeared in the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday (2 December), where he was sentenced to three years and nine months’ jail.
Justice David Mossop said the shooting happened after Cunningham, a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, became involved in enforcing a $600 drug debt.
“There was no need for him to insert himself in this role,” he said.
A group of people arrived on a street in Theodore in March 2019 and there was an argument about the debt.
As Cunningham’s victim turned to leave, a man shouted at him, “I’m coming back and I’m going to shoot you in the head”.
Cunningham used the gun he had brought with him to fire one of two shots into the air. The group started to flee, but as they did, he turned his gun towards them and fired as they ran.
A bullet hit his victim in the leg and he needed surgery at the Canberra Hospital to fix a “significant wound”, Justice Mossop said.
When police raided Cunningham’s home, they found a rifle in a bedroom.
Cunningham had already faced two jury trials over the incident. The juries were discharged in both trials before the third began in November.
On the seventh day of this trial, he pleaded guilty to charges of committing an act endangering life and possessing a prohibited firearm.
Justice Mossop said some bullets hit properties on the street, and the shooting happened when residents could have been around or in their homes.
He said a pre-sentence report showed Cunningham had three children to three different women, and his current partner was expecting to give birth to their baby.
He used to work as a trades assistant and farmhand and was an “avid car enthusiast”, in addition to being a member of the Rebels, although Justice Mossop noted the offending did not involve the motorcycle gang.
While he found no proven plan to fire the gun, he said Cunningham “has demonstrated no remorse”.
Cunningham was given a non-parole period of two years and six months. His sentence was backdated to take into account the time he has already spent in custody. He is eligible to be released in June 2023.