Abalone 'pirate' loses appeal

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Posted by on August 09, 2005 at 00:55:06:

In Reply to: Australia: Serial abalone poacher jailed posted by on August 09, 2005 at 00:52:36:

A MELBOURNE abalone poacher today lost his appeal against an 18-month maximum jail term.

David Strachan, of East Brighton, was sentenced to 18 months' jail last year for selling 690kg, or about 6525 individual illegally-poached abalone, to an undercover fisheries officer.

In doing so, he breached a 10-year prohibition from possessing even a single abalone, a highly sought-after seafood delicacy particularly popular in Asian cuisine.

During the appeal hearing, Strachan's lawyer Philip Dunn QC said his client had given up the game after the birth of twins in March this year and was suffering a psychological condition similar to bi-polar disorder.

"He has been a serious pirate of the sea, but the pirate has hung up his flag because the game is not worth the candle any more," he told the Victorian County Court.

But Judge Margaret Rizkalla today reimposed the sentence handed to Strachan in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

"The Crown submits that taking into account your appalling history in relation to the removal illegally of abalone from Victorian and Tasmanian waters and your constant disregard for court orders ... that this court could not do anything other than impose a term of imprisonment," she said.

Judge Rizkalla reimposed the maximum 18-month jail sentence, with a minimum of 10 months, $27,380 in costs and a $24,080 pecuniary penalty order.

Strachan must also forfeit a boat used in one of the offences.

Victoria and Tasmania are two of the last viable abalone habitats in the world, but even there the species is threatened and fishing is strictly regulated through licences.

When he sold the abalone in the middle of 2003, Strachan had only just been released from jail after serving a nine-month sentence and had a further suspended sentence hanging over him from a previous conviction in June 2002.

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