A Tauranga commercial fisherman has been convicted and fined $3,000 for deliberately driving his vehicle at a fishery officer who had signalled for him to pull over.
Bruce William Clifford Roberts, a 50-year-old commercial fisherman, was driving his 4x4 from Port Ohope in March this year when a fishery officer, who was standing approximately 100m away from Roberts’ car, indicated to him to pull over.
When Roberts was approximately 30-40 metres away from the fishery officer, he turned his steering wheel and headed straight towards the officer.
The officer observed that Roberts was deliberately driving towards him and had increased his speed.
The officer yelled “stop, fisheries” several times. If he hadn’t moved he would have been hit by Roberts’ vehicle.
In a formal interview, Roberts gave no explanation for his actions.
Ministry for Primary Industries District Compliance Manager for Poverty Bay, Tom Teneti, says fishery officers do an important job and it’s very disappointing when they are targeted in this way.
“Our people are performing an important role upholding the law and ensuring the public is aware of the rules. To be threatened and put in danger for doing so is unacceptable”.
Roberts was convicted for behaving in a threatening manner towards a fishery officer and fined $3,000 plus $130 courts costs when he appeared in the Whakatane District Court on 3 August.
He also had to pay a $1,500 redemption fee for the return of the forfeit vehicle used in the offence.
The sentencing judge took into account Roberts’ early guilty plea and other mitigating factors including a restorative justice conference at which Roberts apologised to the fishery officer involved.