A repeat environmental offender, Morrinsville pig and dairy farmer Kenneth McIntyre, has received what’s thought to be the region’s first sentence of home detention for this type of pollution, as well as a $100,000 fine.
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PETER DRURY/WAIKATO TIMES Farmer Kenneth McIntyre has just been sentenced to home detention and fined $100,000 for environmental offending which occurred in 2018 – the home detention sentence is said to be a first in Waikato for this type of offending.

It follows his conviction on 13 charges of breaching the Resource Management Act.

Patrick Lynch, compliance manager at Waikato Regional Council which prosecuted the case, said on Wednesday he was not aware of any earlier cases where home detention or imprisonment had been handed down in the region for this type of offending.

Of McIntyre’s five-month home detention sentence, Lynch said: “It’s a reflection of the seriousness of the offending … I think it’s completely appropriate.”

Asked whether it was a sign of the courts taking environmental offending more seriously, Lynch said: “It does show a strengthening in messaging coming from the court.”

A council-supplied photo showing an overland flow towards a stream.
SUPPLIED A council-supplied photo showing an overland flow towards a stream.

If fines hadn’t been enough to deter offenders in the past, then the risk of home detention or imprisonment “surely must make a difference”.

Lynch said people could be imprisoned for up to two years per conviction for environmental offending.

The Hamilton District Court sentence from Judge David Kirkpatrick was only released this week after a trial in mid-2021.

Stored waste in a disused piggery building awaiting disposal on farm.
SUPPLIED Stored waste in a disused piggery building awaiting disposal on farm.
An irrigator stationary in paddock.
SUPPLIED An irrigator stationary in paddock.
Ponded waste on paddock surface.
SUPPLIED Ponded waste on paddock surface.
Waste contaminant pooled in a tributary stream.
SUPPLIED Waste contaminant pooled in a tributary stream.

The case was McIntyre’s fifth prosecution by the council in a history of offending spanning 12 years.

The convictions related to nine charges of discharging contaminants into the environment, three of breaching court orders that were imposed in previous prosecutions, and one charge of excavating a stream. All of the unlawful activities were at a Kereone farm, near Morrinsville, a council statement said.

Judge Kirkpatrick made further orders against McIntyre and his partner Cassandra Kidd – who was also convicted in relation to these environmental breaches – banning any further “waste” being brought on to their property.

Cassandra Kidd was convicted and discharged of any further sentence on two related charges for her role in the offending. She had earlier entered guilty pleas.

The case followed complaints from members of the public. After a subsequent council investigation, it was alleged large volumes of liquid waste had been “recklessly” discharged into the environment in 2018.

McIntyre pleaded not guilty, electing trial by jury.

However, it was established that, in May 2018, in excess of 1500 tonnes of dairy factory liquid waste was received at the Kereone farm. The waste was then spread to land in such a way as to flow into a tributary stream of the Piako River, causing gross pollution, the council said.

The jury heard McIntyre received $177,000 for receiving waste products between February and June 2018.

The council’s statement quoted Judge Kirkpatrick as saying that “the gravity of the offending in this case was high” and that “the culpability of Mr McIntyre for his offending is also high”.

Lynch said home detention “reflects both the very poor behaviour of this one person, over many years, and the frustration in that he simply has not changed his behaviour”.

Australians are being warned of another price hike, with the cost of milk set to go up.

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