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Imprisonment for paua dealer

21 July 2006

Imprisonment for paua dealer

“The sentencing of a Lower Hutt man to nine months imprisonment this afternoon shows that New Zealanders have zero tolerance for people who illegally deal in paua”, says Wellington District Compliance Manager Ross Thurston.

Mr Thurston said the selling of fish outside the quota management system strikes at the very heart of efforts to protect our valuable fish stocks. Announcements made earlier this week about paua detection dogs that will operate around the country and the discovery by Fisheries Officers of a significant number of illegally harvest paua near Porirua highlighted the issue of illegal taking and export of this species.

“The sentence and other costs related to this conviction should serve as a stark reminder to anyone considering this type of offending that it will not be tolerated,” he said.

Kevin Ngan pleaded guilty to one charge relating to paua offending at the Wellington District Court on 12 May and was remanded for sentencing. The offence was in breach of section 233 of the Fisheries Act 1996, which carries a maximum five years imprisonment and/or $250,000 fine, and/or a community-based sentence.

On 6 February 2005, Mr Ngan crashed his vehicle into a bank off State Highway One, at Hunterville. He was removed from the vehicle by fire officers and airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital.

Police officers who attended the crash scene found 1597 shucked ordinary paua, $9,412 cash, and methamphetamine in and around Mr Ngan’s vehicle. The paua had an estimated value between $13,200 and $36,800.

When interviewed, Mr Ngan admitted he was taking the paua to Auckland to deliver to a buyer who would pay him $5,250. Mr Ngan’s commission was to be $500.

The paua and Mr. Ngan’s two cellphones were forfeited to the Crown. Mr Ngan’s vehicle had been written-off as a result of the crash.

In relation to the drugs, one of the Police charges Mr Ngan faced was of ‘possessing methamphetamine for supply’. He was convicted of that charge after a jury trial earlier this year. Mr Ngan pleaded guilty to a Police charge of ‘unlawful possession of four knives’. On 3 March 2006, Mr Ngan was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for the Police charges, and the $9,412 was forfeited to the Crown.

Mr Ngan’s term of imprisonment for the paua charge will be served on top of the three and a half years he is already serving.

ENDS

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