Guilty pleas in crayfish operation
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of the men charged after the year- long crayfish sting have pleaded guilty to lesser offences after some charges were withdrawn and others amended.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Trevor David Smith, retired, of Oaro, pleaded guilty to five charges after six other charges were withdrawn while a further four had been amended.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.