Court seizes abalone poaching aide's $60,000 possessions

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Posted by on December 11, 2005 at 23:33:42:

In Reply to: Saving the world's rarest shellfish posted by on December 11, 2005 at 23:29:56:

A magistrate yesterday ordered a crucial "foot soldier" for Australia's most infamous abalone poacher to forfeit his boat, car and gear worth $60,000.

Wayne Clinton Gallop, 23, was also jailed for four months and was fined $3000 for abalone offences committed for personal enrichment.

If deemed suitable when assessed, Gallop will serve the jail sentence in the community through an intensive correction order.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard that Gallop allowed his boat to be modified by David Campbell Strachan to poach 3388 abalone destined for the lucrative black market.

Strachan was described in court as a notorious poacher with 100 convictions for abalone-related offences.

Despite a plea by his barrister to spare Gallop the "draconian' consequences of losing his boat and car, magistrate Peter Couzens said they were an integral part of a sophisticated enterprise that undermined Victoria's legal abalone industry.

Mr Couzens heard that Gallop, of Clifton Springs, near Geelong, and his partner had used savings and remortgaged their home to buy the items and their loss would cause them hardship.

But Mr Couzens compared Gallop to someone who drove armed robbers to a bank and then waited outside to help them from the scene.

"People who engage in this sort of activity (abalone poaching) must understand that if they do so they run the risk the equipment they use will be seized and forfeited," he said.

He told Gallop that his car and boat were a pivotal part of the offences and had to be forfeited, even though that meant he would be forced to make continuing loan repayments for things he no longer owned.

Ian Parks, prosecuting, said a middle man for Strachan approached Gallop last year to have his ocean-going boat modified.

Mr Parks said Strachan helped change the boat's fuel lines and added a "hookah" breathing apparatus that included an air compressor, regulator and hoses to allow longer diving times.

On about May 7 and 29 last year, Gallop delivered in his car a total of 406 kilograms of abalone poached from his boat to Strachan, who waited in two areas in East Brighton, he said.

Mr Parks said that at the rendezvous Strachan was paid $24,050 by an undercover policeman posing as a buyer.

Gallop pleaded guilty to eight charges that included taking abalone for sale, consigning abalone for sale and possessing more than twice the catch limit.

Mr Couzens was told he had the discretion to order Gallop to pay possible additional penalties totalling $354,800 based on a $100 penalty for each abalone over the daily catch limit of 10.

Shane Gardner, defending, said Gallop had been used by others to insulate themselves from prosecution and alleged that Strachan had a reputation for using younger people.

Mr Gardner said Gallop had a long involvement with the legal fishing industry, with his family licensed to grow mussels through an aquaculture business.

He submitted that Gallop did not understand the magnitude of what he was doing with Strachan and that he was a less "morally culpable foot soldier" who responded to the instructions and directions of others.

"In effect he has dragged his family through the mud," Mr Gardner said, adding that Gallop had caused family members to be subjected to scrutiny.

Gallop's partner, Melissa Batty, said the boat had been bought legitimately for game fishing, which was Gallop's life.

Character witness and life-long friend Lance Wiffen said in evidence that Gallop was now "tainted as an abalone poacher" and that his family were "frightened of being tainted with the same brush".

Mr Couzens took into account Gallop's youth, lack of prior convictions and the fact that his reputation would be tarnished for years.

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