A Pilbara artist who works with a charity group in Roebourne that uses art and culture to empower the community has pleaded guilty to drug and firearms related offences. Patrick Churnside, who is a board member and performer at BigHart, appeared before the Karratha Magistrates Court on July 19 and pleaded guilty to one count of possessing cannabis and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia. He also entered guilty pleas to two counts of being an unlicensed person in possession of firearms and ammunition. The court heard Churnside was the passenger in a vehicle on June 14 that was stopped by police on the North West Coastal Highway. During a search of the vehicle, police found one gram of cannabis in Churnside’s pocket along with a glass bong wrapped in a towel. Police discovered a Ruger M77 bolt action rifle and 163 rounds of ammunition of three different calibres. Churnside’s lawyer Haley Allen told the court the firearm and ammunition belonged to his partner who has a license for the weapon. She told the court the rifle had been left in the car after a trip for a funeral and was used for cultural practices such as hunting food for sorry business. “He’s pleaded guilty on the basis that the search found the rifle, and at that moment thought ‘that’s rights, from trip’,” she said. Ms Allan said Churnside had begun using cannabis in recent times after suffering from depression and anxiety and has since gone to counselling. Magistrate Janelle Scutt said Churnside’s moral culpability for the firearm offence was low as it was his partner’s and had been used in cultural practices. “In your credit, you are a working man, support young people and you are supporting a family,” she said. Churnside was fined $300 for the drug related offences and fined $600 for the firearms offences with costs of $259.30.