A Kawerau man jailed for his part in poaching more than 40 trout has failed in his bid to be released to serve his time at home.
Thomas Tawha, 42, was convicted of poaching 49 trout from a spawning ground in a stream leading into Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua, and jailed for a year in April.
Eastern Fish & Game staff and police caught Thomas Tawha and David Leef with 29 trout in July, including 15 mature spawning females. Photo: Fish & Game.
In an effort to have his sentence reduced to home detention, he went to the High Court in Rotorua, arguing the sentence was too harsh, reports TV One.
Penalties for poaching fish during winter spawning season range from a maximum of two years’ jail or fines of up to $100,000.
In his decision released today, Justice Simon Moore agreed 12 months was too high and he reduced Tawha’s jail time to six months.
However, he refused to allow him to then be considered for home detention.
Tawha did not appear to be sorry for the poaching and the crime could have a destructive effect on the fishery, says Justice Moore.
Poachers must expect to go to prison when they are caught, he adds.
Justice Moore says Tawha’s case was not helped by a “well demonstrated history of non-compliance with various court orders”.
Initially, Tawha had refused to recognise the district court, claiming he was a “sovereign being”.
Tawha and co-accused David Pake Leef, 35, of Te Teko, were found guilty last November of poaching as many as 60 spawning trout from a stream near Lake Rotiti.
Back in November, Judge James Weir rejected the pairs’ attempt to refuse the court’s jurisdiction and claim customary rights to take the fish, and said these rights did not apply to trout as an introduced species.
More than half of the freshly-killed trout were mature spawning females, with wild fish making up the majority of the haul.
Eastern Fish & Game Manager Andy Garrick at the time said this was some of the worst poaching that officers have dealt with in more than a decade.