Farmer refuses to plead on 52 charges

NO PLEA: Dairy farmer Philip Woolley is facing 52 charges.
NO PLEA: Dairy farmer Philip Woolley is facing 52 charges.

A Marlborough dairy farmer facing a catalogue of charges relating to environmental breaches has refused to enter a plea in court.

Philip Woolley's defence lawyer argued in the Environment Court in Blenheim yesterday that it would not be in the interests of justice to plead to the charges until the outcome of a High Court appeal.

Judge Jeff Smith said failure to enter a plea would delay justice and that he was accepting a default not-guilty plea on the charges.

Woolley faces 52 charges. The court heard 27 of the charges were against Woolley and the remaining 25 were directed against Awarua Farm.

The charges related to cow crossings without consent, discharging effluent without consent and breaches of interim enforcement orders from the Environment Court.

The farmer was due to elect a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges yesterday.

However, his defence lawyer David Clark said a High Court appeal on some enforcement orders from the Environment Courts would take place on August 16.

Clark argued it was in the interests of justice the plea hearing was adjourned.

"It is a situation of putting the cart before the horse," Clark said. "The defendant must be fully informed at the time of plea. He doesn't know what the outcome of the Court of Appeal will be."

Prosecution lawyer Jackson Webber opposed an adjournment, arguing it would create a sequence of potential delays.

The judge said the appeal hearing did not mean "the wheels of justice should stop".

"Justice delayed is justice denied," Smith said.

Smith said he was satisfied he could deal with the matter by a default not-guilty plea.

A teleconference case review hearing will be held on August 6.

Woolley has appeared a number of times in court. Earlier this month Judge Jon Jackson said Woolley should explore other means of milking his cows after his Upper Wairau farm, Glenmae, was deemed unfit for the purpose.

Last year he was sentenced to two months' home detention and ordered to pay more than $38,000 in reparations on a charge of disturbing a riverbed and one of depositing soil and vegetation on a riverbed.

The Marlborough Express