Torches turn tasers in Commonwealth offence
IMPORTING five torches from China turned out to be an expensive exercise for John Edward Raiteri, who found himself in court on Monday charged with a Commonwealth offence.
The 43-year-old local resident pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally importing Tier 2 goods without approval.
The court heard that on February 22, 2012, a package addressed to Raiteri arrived at the Sydney International Mail Centre. It was intercepted by customs and found to contain five, torch-style electrical anti-personnel devices. Police prosecutor Elizabeth Cassells said the torches produced an electrical discharge, thereby operating in a similar style to a taser.
In October 2012, the items were sent for forensic examination and officially classified as Tier 2 goods, which are an offence to import into Australia.
Raiteri said he had no idea of this and was “shocked out of my mind” when police showed up.
Raiteri told the court he had purchased the items over the internet from China via a website in broken English and Chinese, which gave no indication that the torches were a type of taser or stun-gun.
He said he ran a security company and believed he was buying personal protection torches that were well priced. Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist said ignorance was no defence, but he conceded Raiteri was “reckless” in importing goods without fully understanding what they were. He said this was a fairly serious offence, which carried maximum penalties of 10 years imprisonment or 2500 penalty units.
“But it’s probably at the lower end of the scale and there is an element of recklessness and there’s no indication you’re importing these things for anything sinister,” he said.
Raiteri was fined $880 and a conviction was recorded against him for the offence.