Boats, gear confiscated

Couple caught in undercover sting on illegal fishing.

Couple caught in undercover sting on illegal fishing.

Paua. File photo

A Mahia couple charged with illegal transactions involving 296 kilograms of black market rock lobster and paua, commercially valued at more than $11,000, have each received six months home detention, and lost their vehicles, boats and fishing gear.

Jose Osborne Ormond, 52, and Juneallen Shannaleen Spark, 43, both beneficiaries, will serve their sentences at their shared Mahia home.

Judge Warren Cathcart also ordered Spark to complete 100 hours community work but spared Ormond a similar additional sentence for health reasons.

Equipment they used in the commission of the offending was forfeited — a car, a tractor, 14ft (4.2m) aluminium boat with power shift motor and trailer, 18ft (5.5m) aluminium pro boat with motor and trailer, fish tracker and sounder, two rock lobster pots, two dive tanks, a wet suit, and other dive gear.

The couple, neither of whom had a commercial fishing licence, were apprehended during the Ministry of Primary Industries undercover “Operation River” between October 2014 and January 2015.

They pleaded guilty following resolution discussions with the Crown to charges laid against them in respect of that operation — selling fish contrary to the Fisheries Act, making false or misleading statements to obtain a benefit under the Fisheries Act, being in possession of excess paua and being in possession of excess rock lobster.

They were convicted of another charge each after a judge-only trial in Wairoa District Court last November, arising from a separate incident in December 2015, when Spark was found to have obstructed fisheries officers trying to inspect a catch by her and Ormond, and Ormond was found to be in possession of eight paua, undersized pursuant to the customary permit on which they were fishing.

Judge Cathcart was critical of the delays Ormond and Spark caused throughout the court process. They had wasted a lot of court time with their “dilly-dallying”, he said.

The case had come full circle after the pair initially pleaded guilty, then vacated those pleas and ran pre-trial arguments.

The offending saw Ormond and Spark gain about $2800 from illegal transactions involving 296kg of seafood that, if sold to a legitimate commercial entity, would have had a market value of about $11,226.

Ms Cleary said there were no tariffs for this type of offending but under the Sentencing Act 2002, offences involving large quantities of paua or other fish could attract maximum penalties of five years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000.

Offences were best determined according to case law.

She cited the outcomes for other Operation River offenders previously dealt with in Napier District Court.

The offending of one pair was classified by MPI as sitting at the high end of Operation River and as being broadly comparable to that of Ormond and Spark.

It had involved 18kg of rock lobster and 211.6kg of paua illegally sold or supplied. The principal offender received seven months home detention and 150 hours community work.

A mid-range offender already dealt with for five illegal transactions of 101kg of paua meat and two unrelated fine-only offences of possessing paua in contravention of the Fisheries Act, received seven months imprisonment.

Spark risked being charged with contempt of court yesterday when, despite warnings from Judge Cathcart, she repeatedly tried to proffer excuses for her offending. She also wanted to sack her lawyer Leighvi Maynard who had advised her he would not make the type of submissions she wanted during a sentencing hearing.

Judge Cathcart sent her to the court’s holding cells until the afternoon, when she reappeared, allowed Mr Maynard to act for her, and apologised to the court.

In submissions, Mr Maynard said the offending occurred against a background in which Spark and Ormond were in significant financial difficulty and had suffered the loss of a close family friend in a boating accident.

Spark claimed to have been intimidated and harassed by the undercover officer who purchased from them, but had elected not to run an entrapment defence.

Morehu Shane Cooper, 54, a Mahia kaitiaki who issued customary permits to Ormond and Spark who he knew to be poachers, was to have been sentenced alongside them yesterday on a charge of being a party to possession of seafood in contradiction to the act.

But Cooper sought an adjournment, saying he now wanted to apply for a discharge without conviction.

The judge scheduled a hearing for that purpose on October 25 but questioned why Cooper, who had many months to alert the court to such an application, was doing so only now.

Prosecutor Fiona Cleary said Cooper’s decision was probably motivated by his involvement in a co-accused’s successful similar application.

Brian Cullen’s case was heard earlier this month in Wairoa District Court by Judge Haamiora Raumati.

Flaxmere man Simon Bird, 48, was also charged as a co-offender with Spark, Ormond, Cullen and Cooper. An associate of Ormond and Spark’s, he purchased seafood from them and on-sold it.

A Mahia couple charged with illegal transactions involving 296 kilograms of black market rock lobster and paua, commercially valued at more than $11,000, have each received six months home detention, and lost their vehicles, boats and fishing gear.

Jose Osborne Ormond, 52, and Juneallen Shannaleen Spark, 43, both beneficiaries, will serve their sentences at their shared Mahia home.

Judge Warren Cathcart also ordered Spark to complete 100 hours community work but spared Ormond a similar additional sentence for health reasons.

Equipment they used in the commission of the offending was forfeited — a car, a tractor, 14ft (4.2m) aluminium boat with power shift motor and trailer, 18ft (5.5m) aluminium pro boat with motor and trailer, fish tracker and sounder, two rock lobster pots, two dive tanks, a wet suit, and other dive gear.

The couple, neither of whom had a commercial fishing licence, were apprehended during the Ministry of Primary Industries undercover “Operation River” between October 2014 and January 2015.

They pleaded guilty following resolution discussions with the Crown to charges laid against them in respect of that operation — selling fish contrary to the Fisheries Act, making false or misleading statements to obtain a benefit under the Fisheries Act, being in possession of excess paua and being in possession of excess rock lobster.

They were convicted of another charge each after a judge-only trial in Wairoa District Court last November, arising from a separate incident in December 2015, when Spark was found to have obstructed fisheries officers trying to inspect a catch by her and Ormond, and Ormond was found to be in possession of eight paua, undersized pursuant to the customary permit on which they were fishing.

Judge Cathcart was critical of the delays Ormond and Spark caused throughout the court process. They had wasted a lot of court time with their “dilly-dallying”, he said.

The case had come full circle after the pair initially pleaded guilty, then vacated those pleas and ran pre-trial arguments.

The offending saw Ormond and Spark gain about $2800 from illegal transactions involving 296kg of seafood that, if sold to a legitimate commercial entity, would have had a market value of about $11,226.

Ms Cleary said there were no tariffs for this type of offending but under the Sentencing Act 2002, offences involving large quantities of paua or other fish could attract maximum penalties of five years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000.

Offences were best determined according to case law.

She cited the outcomes for other Operation River offenders previously dealt with in Napier District Court.

The offending of one pair was classified by MPI as sitting at the high end of Operation River and as being broadly comparable to that of Ormond and Spark.

It had involved 18kg of rock lobster and 211.6kg of paua illegally sold or supplied. The principal offender received seven months home detention and 150 hours community work.

A mid-range offender already dealt with for five illegal transactions of 101kg of paua meat and two unrelated fine-only offences of possessing paua in contravention of the Fisheries Act, received seven months imprisonment.

Spark risked being charged with contempt of court yesterday when, despite warnings from Judge Cathcart, she repeatedly tried to proffer excuses for her offending. She also wanted to sack her lawyer Leighvi Maynard who had advised her he would not make the type of submissions she wanted during a sentencing hearing.

Judge Cathcart sent her to the court’s holding cells until the afternoon, when she reappeared, allowed Mr Maynard to act for her, and apologised to the court.

In submissions, Mr Maynard said the offending occurred against a background in which Spark and Ormond were in significant financial difficulty and had suffered the loss of a close family friend in a boating accident.

Spark claimed to have been intimidated and harassed by the undercover officer who purchased from them, but had elected not to run an entrapment defence.

Morehu Shane Cooper, 54, a Mahia kaitiaki who issued customary permits to Ormond and Spark who he knew to be poachers, was to have been sentenced alongside them yesterday on a charge of being a party to possession of seafood in contradiction to the act.

But Cooper sought an adjournment, saying he now wanted to apply for a discharge without conviction.

The judge scheduled a hearing for that purpose on October 25 but questioned why Cooper, who had many months to alert the court to such an application, was doing so only now.

Prosecutor Fiona Cleary said Cooper’s decision was probably motivated by his involvement in a co-accused’s successful similar application.

Brian Cullen’s case was heard earlier this month in Wairoa District Court by Judge Haamiora Raumati.

Flaxmere man Simon Bird, 48, was also charged as a co-offender with Spark, Ormond, Cullen and Cooper. An associate of Ormond and Spark’s, he purchased seafood from them and on-sold it.

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