Poacher avoids jail sen­tence

North Coast Weekender - - News - Mark Don­ald­son

THE first per­son in WA to be sen­tenced over a tough new poach­ing law has avoided jail de­spite the pros­e­cu­tion strongly urg­ing for im­pris­on­ment af­ter he took 255 abalone from the pro­tected Marmion Ma­rine Park.

Dat Duc Luu faced Joon­dalup Mag­is­trates Court on Tues­day, July 31, hav­ing pleaded guilty to mul­ti­ple of­fences, the most se­ri­ous be­ing that he was “a per­son that traf­ficked in a com- mer­cial quan­tity of pri­or­ity fish” on De­cem­ber 30, 2016.

Luu was the first per­son in the State to be sen­tenced over the charge, which was in­tro­duced in 2011.

He faced a max­i­mum two years in jail or $200,000 fine, but Mag­is­trate Gre­gory Benn im­posed a $10,000 fine.

Mr Benn said a prison term was “not an out­ra­geous sub­mis­sion” but did not think it was war­ranted be­cause Luu had poached the Roe’s abalone to give as gifts, rather than sell for com­mer­cial gain.

Luu also re­ceived manda­tory penal­ties and fines for other of­fences to­talling more than $8000, which cost him nearly $20,000 for his il­le­gal catch.

He was banned from abalone fish­ing for two years.

Mr Benn also had to con­sider whether Luu was al­lowed to have his car back be­cause Fish­eries of­fi­cers had seized it at the time of the of­fence.

The Jeep was his son’s car and had been im­pounded for more than 18 months.

The pros­e­cu­tion did not want it re­turned, but Mr Benn al­lowed for it, say­ing it would have a “sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on an­other fam­ily mem­ber” if he did not.

He scorned Luu for his be­hav­iour, say­ing the de­gree of harm he caused was “ef­fec­tively in­cal­cu­la­ble”.

Luu had tried to poach abalone on two nights pre­vi­ous to his jumbo haul at Water­mans Bay, but had left empty handed.

Abalone can not be taken from the ma­rine park at any time of year.

Luu, a mar­ried fa­ther-of-three, was a fish­er­man in Viet­nam be­fore mov­ing to Perth and be­com­ing a baker.

Pic­ture: Mark Don­ald­son

Dat Duc Luu (right) with his lawyer out­side court.

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