Paua poacher's sentence cut

Last updated 13:47 03/04/2014

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A convicted paua poacher's prison sentence has been reduced.

Ryan Karl Tapsell pleaded guilty to 15 charges related to illegally taking and selling between 395 and 526 kilograms of paua in Otago from May 2010 to March 2011.

He was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court in September 2013 to four years' imprisonment, with a minimum term of two years' imprisonment.

In its decision released today, the Court of Appeal reduced this sentence to three years and two months, with no minimum period of imprisonment.

Tapsell had used a fictitious event to obtain a customary authorisation from the local Tangata Tiaki, which gave him permission to take more than the daily limit of 10 paua for one specific event only.

He used that authorisation to take paua, with the help of two other men, on multiple occasions and sold the paua to several fish dealers.

He was not authorised to sell the paua.

In sentencing Tapsell in the District Court, Judge Michael Crosbie said it was fisheries offending of the worst kind, not in terms of scale but in terms of the manipulation of the fisheries and authorisation process. He imposed the minimum term of imprisonment as a personal deterrent to Tapsell.

But the Court of Appeal removed the minimum sentence of imprisonment because it said the offending did not justify such a penalty.

It also quashed the original four-year sentence, finding the sentencing starting point and uplift used by Judge Crosbie to be too high and not in line with the totality of the offending.

The two men who committed the offences with Tapsell were sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment.

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