By Graham Cairns
Police say the sentencing this week of a 54 year old Charters Towers man closes the books on a cattle-rustling case that's lasted nearly 5 years.
Police from the Charters Towers Stock and Rural Crime Squad have been investigating the stealing, re-branding and earmarking of cattle between March 2009 and March 2013 this year from a grazing property near Charters Towers.
A man was charged in March 18 with four counts of defacing brands, two counts of stealing stock and one count each of stealing stock, fraud, illegal branding, faking a waybill and failing to ensure cattle had a permanent tag.
He was sentenced in the Charters Towers Magistrates Court on Thursday, in a move welcomed by Detective Sergeant Mark Hogenelst, Officer in Charge Charters Towers Stock and Rural Crime Squad.
Advertisement “During the operation we found that after being stolen, the cattle had their brands and earmarks crudely altered using a heated implement. The offender modified the brand (a three-piece symbol) from an N to an M in order to appear similar to his own.
“We also determined the offender had fitted false National Livestock Identification System devices to the cattle so he could make declarations on waybills and transport the cattle for sale,” Detective Sergeant Hogenelst said.
The man received a $15,200 fine and was ordered to pay $3874 in restitution. The judge has also ordered the cattle, retrieved from properties in Charters Towers and Prairie during the investigation, be returned to their owner.
“We are pleased with the result of this operation. With many cattle producers across the State facing unrelenting drought conditions and tough financial times, we are committed to identifying those who prey on them and seek to steal their sources of income,” Detective Sergeant Hogenelst said.