Kiwi with 'James Bond persona' jailed in Sydney

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 13:14 12/08/2012

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A New Zealand bodyguard with a gun fixation, military paraphernalia and a "James Bond"-style fantasy lifestyle has been jailed in Sydney for four years after pleading guilty to a range of firearms offences plus the possession of bogus documentation and steroids.

Sean Bowman aspired to compete at the Seoul Olympics when taekwondo was a demonstration sport; he was then a security consultant at Sydney 2000 and 12 years later he watched the London Games from the confines of Silverwater jail - a dramatic fall from grace for the martial arts devotee from Christchurch.

Bowman's extensive cache of unauthorised weapons, including a M4 assault rifle and Benalli 12-gauge shotgun, was discovered by police when they raided his apartment near the Olympic Stadium in May last year.

False documents including an Afghanistan passport used to open an Australian bank account were also recovered along with police overalls and IDs portraying Bowman as a member of the CIA and Interpol.

An assortment of knives, flash-bang devices, smoke grenades, nunchucks, ammunition and vials of steroids were also seized.

Bowman, who had worked with the New Zealand, New South Wales, Victorian and Australian Federal Police, has been in jail since his arrest and entered guilty pleas two months ago.

While remanded in custody he came to prominence in a legal action taken by the mistress of his former employer Richard Pratt, the late cardboard products mogul who was once rated the fourth richest businessman in Australia.

Last September former escort Madison Ashton unsuccessfully sought $A10 million of Mr Pratt's $A5 billion fortune from his estate. Her claim included an accusation Pratt encouraged her to sleep with Bowman between 2003-04 because he feared he would be blackmailed by his head of security.

Bowman spent four years on Mr Pratt's staff until the 74-year-old died of prostate cancer in 2009.

Before being headhunted by Pratt, Bowman was in Afghanistan doing assessments for the International Security Assistance Force as he immersed himself in the security industry.

The court heard the 39-year-old developed an affinity with guns as a boy - he started shooting rabbits from the age of seven with an uncle -- and served 18 months in the New Zealand Army during his 20s until a knee injury forced a career change.

Bowman was a small arms instructor for the New Zealand Police before moving to Sydney in 1997 with his then wife where he guarded rabbis plus a variety of visiting dignitaries including CNN founder Ted Turner and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

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He obtained his firearms licence when he was a 16-year-old, added a collectors' licence three years later and by then he was also taking a particular interest in the culture of the Samurai.

Before sentencing Bowman, who will be eligible for parole from November 11, 2013, Judge Andrew Colefax commended him for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

The prosecution was also satisfied Bowman had not intended to use the weapons for criminal activity.

A report by psychiatrist Dr Richard Furst said Bowman was not suffering from a major mental illness, but has some psychological issues to address including "his obsession with weapons and paramilitary themes ...he appears to have developed some kind of 'James Bond' persona."

The court heard Bowman had spent 20 years studying the evolution of ballistics and spent up to 100 hours a week working for Pratt, a devotion that led to separation from his wife in 2006 and divorce three years later.

Dr Furst said Bowman had struggled to acclimatise to life in jail because his career focused on preserving life, protecting people: "He can't stand to be around criminals."

Bowman agreed to undergo counselling in relation to his obsession when he is released.

"I'm incredibly embarrassed and ashamed of myself," he told Judge Colefax, insisting he had no criminal, malicious or harmful intent.

Bowman accepted his convictions would prevent him re-entering the security industry so equated his punishment "to a life sentence".

Once freed and deported to New Zealand he hoped to establish a pet shelter in the South Island.

- Fairfax Media

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