Man fights $3m court case

Geraldton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE -

A man who could face fines of more than $3 mil­lion for al­legedly stor­ing 42 ve­hi­cles on his Woor­ree prop­erty with­out per­mis­sion will fight the charges.

Ryan Wil­liam Drage, 35, was due to be sen­tenced in Ger­ald­ton Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day on charges of con­tra­ven­ing the pro­vi­sions of a plan­ning scheme and fail­ing to com­ply with a di­rec­tion within the time spec­i­fied.

Mr Drage, ap­pear­ing in court for the first time in re­la­tion to the mat­ter, said he wanted to plead not guilty.

Mag­is­trate Donna Webb told Mr Drage she had con­victed him in his ab­sence on Septem­ber 3 after he failed to ap­pear in court for the third time.

But Mr Drage de­nied he had re­ceived any no­tice of his pre­vi­ous two court dates, adding he was late for the first ap­pear­ance and missed the hear­ing.

He also ar­gued he had an ar­range­ment with the City of Greater Ger­ald­ton whereby he was al­lowed to keep the ve­hi­cles on his prop­erty.

The court was told the City dis­puted that claim and main­tained Mr Drage had been or­dered to re­move the ve­hi­cles.

Ms Webb said she had lit­tle choice but to re­move the con­vic­tion and ad­journed the case to Novem­ber 22.

But she warned Mr Drage she would again con­vict him in his ab­sence if he failed to ap­pear and ad­vised him to hire a lawyer.

Dur­ing the Septem­ber 3 hear­ing, the court was told that in 2016, the City wrote to Mr Drage to in­form him a fence built on his Woor­ree prop­erty ex­ceeded the City’s 1.2m height limit.

The City al­leged that dur­ing a sub­se­quent in­spec­tion, 42 un­reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles were found to be stored on the prop­erty.

Mr Drage al­legedly told the City he was re­pair­ing the ve­hi­cles as a hobby. Al­though the fence had since been al­tered to the cor­rect height, the ve­hi­cles had not been re­moved, the court heard.

The court was told Mr Drage could be fined up to $20,000 a day since the pros­e­cu­tion be­gan — a fig­ure that amounted to more than $3 mil­lion.

Ms Webb said the fines could bank­rupt Mr Drage and she needed him in court to de­ter­mine the penalty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.