Far-right activist Kyle Chapman avoids jail on gun charges

Kyle Chapman was sentenced to six months community detention and six months supervision after pleading guilty to gun-related charges.
Kyle Chapman was sentenced to six months community detention and six months supervision after pleading guilty to gun-related charges. Photo credit: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Far-right activist and former neo-Nazi leader Kyle Chapman has avoided jail on gun charges, telling the court he is leaving his life of activism.

The 52-year-old was sentenced to six months' community detention and six months' supervision when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday morning.

Chapman earlier pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Norinco semi-automatic rifle, which was banned in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks - as well as further firearms charges relating to parts and ammunition for the rifle and a .22-calibre rifle.

In September last year, police raided Chapman's Phillipstown address.

"The defendant had in his possession a Norinco 7.62mm rifle, which was stored in the wardrobe of his bedroom," a summary of facts said.

"The defendant also had possession of a 7.62mm magazine which was kept in a camo-print bag under his bed. The magazine fits the Norinco rifle.

"Three 7.62mm rifle rounds, 46 .22-calibre rounds, three 12-gauge shotgun shells and two .22 magazines were also in the camo-print bag.

"In the garage of the address was a ziplock bag containing 82 .22 rounds of ammunition and one 7.62mm round of ammunition."

Chapman claimed to police the rifle was an Airsoft rifle given to him to hold by a now-deceased friend.

The court heard this morning Chapman's home resembled that of a hoarder's by the time of the police raid.

"Mr Chapman had got himself into the position of hoarding many possessions accumulated over the years," his lawyer Joshua Grainger said.

Since being charged he had taken steps to clear out his home and put his responsibilities as a father first.

"That's shown by his sentiments of wanting to pull back from his activism and that's in recognition of the need to be a father first and an activist second," Grainger said.

Chapman had previously been convicted of firebombing a marae.

Judge Tom Gilbert acknowledged his criminal past, but noted any previous appearances before the court were about three decades ago.

The judge also noted Chapman had been an "activist for many years for various causes including, at times, for alt-right groups".

Judge Gilbert said a pre-sentencing report noted Chapman had said he wished to give such activism away and focus on his family.

"Normally I would be sceptical of such claims, but the material does support that," the judge said.

The Crown also sought the imposition of a firearms prohibition order on Chapman.

However, Judge Gilbert was not convinced the test for such an order had been met.

Chapman was also convicted and discharged for breaching a Covid-19 lockdown in August 2021.

The firearms, accessories and ammunition would be destroyed.