Torches turn tasers in Com­mon­wealth of­fence

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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