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Father and son fined $62,600 for selling strayed cattle

Beef Central, 25/02/2013

A father and son have received $62,600 in fines after pleading guilty to charges of stock theft in the Mackay Magistrates Court.

Phillip Head and his father Noel were charged by officers from Queensland’s Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad (SARCIS) in Rockhampton in December last year, in relation to stock stealing and related charges.

Mackay’s Daily Mercury newspaper reported that Mackay Magistrates Court was told last Thursday that “frustration” had pushed the father and son into stealing cattle from neighbouring properties (Click here to view Daily Mercury report).

The report said the court heard that straying cattle had continually entered the Gargett property of 76 year old Noel Head and 44 year old Phillip Head, trampling their cane and spreading weeds.

The court was told that fences had failed to stop the cattle and in the past the men had returned the straying beasts to their owners.

However, when another 26 cattle strayed onto their property last year, that incident had “pushed them over the edge”.

According to the Daily Mercury report, the Head’s defence barrister Bronwyn Hartigan said their stealing was "born out of sheer frustration".

"This time they were fed up, frustrated, and made the decision to get rid of them (the cattle)," Ms Hartigan said.

The court was told that from the 26 cattle in question, four were taken to the meatworks by Phillip Head. The balance were either returned to their owners or forfeited to the crown because they were unbranded.

Neither man had a criminal history and Ms Hartigan said both were ashamed to be fronting the Mackay Magistrates Court.

Phillip Wade Head pleaded guilty to 19 charges, including stealing, suspicion of stealing, attaching an incorrect permanent tag, failing to attach a permanent tag and illegal branding, and was fined $55,000, with no conviction recorded.

Noel Head pleaded guilty to stealing and suspicion of stealing cattle, with no conviction recorded.

The two most serious charges against Phillip Head related to a false waybill with a maximum fine of $110,000 or one year jail.

Magistrate Damien Dwyer accepted there was no "malice" or "premeditation".

"The simple fact is, you're not the sheriff, you don't take the law into your own hands," Mr Dwyer said.

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