Two poachers sentenced

The maximum penalties for poaching had increased to reflect the enormous interest in this type of offending and the possible risks that could flow from it, Judge Michael Crosbie told a man caught poaching on Matakanui Station last weekend.

Sharn Daniel Stewart (27), of Wanaka, appeared in the Alexandra District Court yesterday and admitted a charge laid under the Wild Animal Control Act, of hunting a deer and a boar on Matakanui Station at Omakau on March 21, without the landowner's permission.

The maximum penalty for the charge was two years in jail or a $100,000 fine.

Three others, a 31-year-old Wanaka man, and two Australian men, aged 29 and 30, faced the same chargeThey were granted diversion by police.

Sergeant Ian Collin said poaching was increasing in Central Otago.

The defendant told his three friends he knew of a good deer-hunting area and arranged the hunting trip.

There was a small amount of Department of Conservation land next to the farm where the poaching took place but there were ''No Shooting'' signs on every gate the group had to open to gain access to the property, Sgt Collin said.

A deer and a boar were shot by the defendant's group.

That weekend, there was a children's hunting contest at Becks and several landowners and their children were hunting on the station.

Another hunter, who had permission to be on the property, saw the defendant's ute headlights and alerted the property owner.

Counsel for Stewart, Liam Collins, said the defendant disputed some facts in the summary.

Stewart said there were no signs on the route the men took on to the property and the men had shot the deer and boar earlier in the evening, before any of the children's hunting competitors were there.

The defendant was driving the vehicle, ''not the one pulling the trigger''.

Police sought forfeiture of Stewart's ute, but he needed the vehicle for his business, which supported his wife and child, Mr Collins said.

Stewart said he thought the property was Crown land.

Judge Crosbie said being the driver did not minimise the defendant's responsibility.

Permission to hunt was needed from the landowner as the illegal hunters had no idea who else might be on the land, or where stock was.

Stewart was sentenced to 120 hours' community work and there was an order for forfeiture of the firearm, and of a bow, arrows and a knife found in the vehicle.

The vehicle was not forfeited.

• Hugh John Shields (19), of Albert Town, fencer, was fined $500, court costs $130 and his gun was forfeited, after he pleaded guilty to hunting goats and deer on Beggs Creek Station on July 27, 2014, without permission.

Sgt Collin said the defendant, who was jointly charged with another man, had been spoken to by a hunter who was on the property at the same time.

The hunter had permission from the landowner.

When first approached, the defendant hid his gun in the bushes and denied hunting, but later surrendered his gun.

Shields told police he did not know whose land he was on.

Counsel Kieran Tohill said the defendant was shooting from a public road.

He had already incurred a ''significant penalty'', losing his $2000 gun, as the property owner rendered it un-useable.

Judge Crosbie accepted it was a ''one-off '' incident.