Guilty pleas in cray­fish op­er­a­tion

Kaikoura Star - - FRONT PAGE -

Two of the men charged after the year- long cray­fish sting have pleaded guilty to lesser of­fences after some charges were with­drawn and oth­ers amended.

In the Kaik­oura Dis­trict Court on Fri­day, Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) pros­e­cu­tor Grant Fletcher said that there were two mat­ters ris­ing from the MPI cray­fish sting co­de­named Op­er­a­tion 15, which set out to charge a group of Kaik­oura fish­er­men with of­fences un­der the Fish­eries Act

The two men had ini­tially pleaded not guilty.

In the first of th­ese, Brent John Rodgers was charged with ob­tain­ing a ben­e­fit from il­le­gally sell­ing cray­fish.

The Crown’s case states that in March this year an un­der­cover of­fi­cer bought cray­fish from Rodgers to­talling $461, in­clud­ing on one oc­ca­sion buy­ing 10 cray­fish at a price of $12 each.

Rodgers pleaded guilty as soon as the charges were down­graded.

MPI pros­e­cu­tor Grant Fletcher said his of­fend­ing was at the ‘‘very, very, very bot­tom of the scale’’, and that he was seek­ing a ‘‘nom­i­nal fine’’ of $750 and the for­fei­ture of chest freez­ers used in the stor­age of cray­fish. Fletcher said the Crown was not seek­ing costs, and that Rodgers can ap­ply for the re­turn of the freez­ers and if he does so he will get them back.

Rodgers was con­victed and fined $600 and $130 court costs.

Trevor David Smith, re­tired, of Oaro, pleaded guilty to five charges after six other charges were with­drawn while a fur­ther four had been amended. The amend­ments were re­gard­ing the dates of the of­fend­ing.

MPI pros­e­cu­tor Grant Fletcher said all par­ties had agreed to re­solve the mat­ter in a prag­matic way.

Fletcher said Smith was charged with il­le­gally sell­ing 118kg of cray­fish, ac­cept­ing $2500 in cash for cray­fish that would be worth around $10,000.

He said the of­fend­ing aris­ing from sell­ing cray­fish il­le­gally was in the ‘‘mid-band of of­fend­ing from Op­er­a­tion 15’’.

He said ex­ten­sive for­fei­ture or­ders would follow im­me­di­ately for a boat, trailer and ve­hi­cles.

De­fence coun­sel Ren­nie Gould ques­tioned whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate to en­ter for­fei­ture of the ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a Toy­ota Hilux, when the mo­tor ve­hi­cles were only in­di­rectly re­lated to the of­fend­ing.

Judge Kel­lar said that with­out the Hilux the boat would not have been put in the wa­ter and there­fore the of­fend­ing would not have oc­curred.

Shane Ka­vanagh was also found not guilty of ‘‘ a mi­nor breach’’ of a pro­tec­tion or­der, since it was ruled the con­se­quences of a con­vic­tion for the breach would be out of all pro­por­tion to the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fend­ing.

Judge Kel­lar said the breach re­lated to the send­ing of one text mes­sage, and was ‘‘un­for­tu­nate and a mis­take, and the de­fen­dant recog­nises that it should not have hap­pened’’.

He said there was ‘‘ a real and ap­pre­cia­ble risk’’ to Ka­vanagh’s liveli­hood and business would be too great, in that he stood to lose his liquor li­cense and abil­ity to work as an au­tho­rised se­cu­rity guard at his bar.

Po­lice op­posed the ap­pli­ca­tion for dis­charge with­out con­vic­tion, with po­lice pros­e­cu­tor Mike Har­ris stat­ing that the of­fend­ing was se­ri­ous, and that Kaik­oura po­lice had sub­mit­ted that rea­sons of con­se­quence to an of­fender’s liveli­hood would ‘‘ ef­fec­tively con­ceal’’ ( breaches) from the au­thor­i­ties grant­ing such li­censes.

The judge said it was one of the ‘‘ very rare oc­ca­sions’’ that he would dis­charge with­out con­vic­tion, be­cause courts should take breaches of pro­tec­tion or­ders very se­ri­ously, but the de­fen­dant was shown to be a per­son of good character and well-re­garded in the com­mu­nity.

A young man who had been at a Hal­loween party last month is re­gret­ting a fate­ful decision to try and drive home af­ter­wards. 18, of In­land Rd, Kaik­oura, was con­victed of driv­ing with ex­cess blood al­co­hol after he had a se­ri­ous car crash last month.

Smith-Kerr had been at a party on the night of Oc­to­ber 31, and had orig­i­nally planned to sleep in the car he was driv­ing which be­longed to his mother. He in­stead de­cided to drive home and early on Novem­ber 1 drove into a brick pil­lar and part of a fence in Avoca St, Kaik­oura. He suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries and was evac­u­ated to Christchurch hos­pi­tal by he­li­copter. He suf­fered a bro­ken jaw and a cracked rib.

His mother’s car was writ­ten off with no in­surance, and SmithKerr has been on ACC while re­cov­er­ing from his in­juries and hop­ing to get back to work full­time.

Judge Kel­lar said since SmithKerr had al­ready suf­fered for his mis­take, had not been in court be­fore and pleaded guilty at the first op­por­tu­nity, there would not be any fur­ther charges re­lat­ing to the mat­ter.

A blood test taken after the ac­ci­dent showed level of 75 mil­ligrams of al­co­hol per 100 millil­itres of blood, above the low­est de­tectable level of 30 mil­ligrams. The judge noted that this was slightly be­low the new adult level of 80 mil­ligrams per 100 millil­itres, and demon­strated why there are re­stric­tions on driv­ing after con­sum­ing al­co­hol.

The blood al­co­hol level al­lowed for per­sons driv­ing un­der the age of 20 is ef­fec­tively zero.

was con­victed and fined $400 with $130 court costs for be­hav­ing in a disor­derly man­ner on Avoca St on Novem­ber 13.

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