Gra­zier con­tin­ues to fight

Western Times - - NEWS -

A CHARLEVILLE farmer caught il­le­gally clear­ing 1838 hectares of land has had an ap­peal against his con­vic­tion and $112,468 in fines and costs thrown out of court.

Daniel James McDon­ald, whose prop­erty is 120km north-west of the ru­ral town, claimed in the Dis­trict Court, among other grounds, the fig­ure was ex­ces­sive.

The court heard $46,397 of those costs came as a re­sult of in­ves­ti­ga­tions af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment used in­for­ma­tion from “air­craft pho­tog­ra­phers” and as­sessed satel­lite im­agery over a two-year pe­riod to catch McDon­ald’s ac­tions.

McDon­ald had sub­mit­ted to the court the drought had a “dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect” on his fam­ily busi­ness and had left his fam­ily phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally ex­hausted.

The orig­i­nal trial in the Charleville Mag­is­trates Court had heard a recorded con­ver­sa­tion be­tween McDon­ald and Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines of­fi­cers where the ac­cused had re­it­er­ated that point.

“I’ve ex­plained to you over the phone why the clear­ing is tak­ing place. It’s still tak­ing place cause we’re still in drought. We are still feed­ing now okay,” McDon­ald said.

The orig­i­nal mag­is­trate did con­ceded McDon­ald cleared land of “least-con­cern re­gional ecosys­tem, and not a more en­dan­gered ecosys­tem”

McDon­ald was found guilty and con­victed of six charges in breach of the state’s sus­tain­able plan­ning act in Au­gust 2017.

Judge Ian Dear­den de­nied the ap­peal, stat­ing “new ev­i­dence” ten­dered was avail­able at the time McDon­ald was sen­tenced.

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