Philip Hunt with friend Roger Saunders in black.
Philip Hunt with friend Roger Saunders in black. Ross Irby

Man will fight charges after officers swoop on home

A BUNDABERG man will fight charges after a swoop on his riverside home by officers resulted in five fishing nets being seized from a shed.

Phillip Hunt was charged with five counts of failing to comply with regulated fishing apparatus/or regulated fishing method declaration on May 23, 2016.

However, Mr Hunt said four of the nets did not belong to him and had washed into his yard from a neighbour's property during the 2013 floods.

He put them inside a large fishing Esky and stored them unused in a shed.

Mr Hunt said he was pleading not guilty to the Queensland Fisheries offences mentioned in Bundaberg Magistrates Court.

Mr Hunt told the court his friend Roger Saunders owned four of the nets and was at court with him.

However, a Fisheries lawyer said the charges related to possession of the nets and not their ownership.

The matter was adjourned.

Speaking outside the court, both Mr Hunt and Mr Saunders were adamant no wrong doing had been done, and that the old nets had not been used by Mr Hunt to fish.

Mr Hunt said police and Fisheries officers arrived at his house saying they were looking for earthmoving equipment.

He believed that was to do with a report made by a Bundaberg resident who had suspicions that someone had made a rough access to the river on the nearby riverbank.

Mr Hunt was at the rubbish tip a decade ago when he came across the four old nets, which he gave to Mr Saunders, his friend and neighbour at the time, when they lived on Hinkler Ave.

During the 2013 floods a lot of Mr Saunders' gear and the nets washed into Mr Hunt's yard. The muddied nets were put into a big Esky and taken back to Mr Saunder's house.

However, Mr Hunt said he borrowed the Esky, nets still inside, about a week before his property was searched to use for drinks for a party.

Mr Saunders said he never got around to using the nets for fishing with his grandchildren.

"I said to chop them bastards up and cover his mango trees from flying foxes," Mr Saunders said.

"I've got bad Parkinson's and have been diagnosed with motor neurone (disease), so I can't walk in the sea or teach the grandkids.

"I got nowhere to hang the nets. I said just cut the ropes off for me. So he was doing a favour for me as a mate. I feel so bloody bad about it ... he's been charged for having my nets, and I'm allowed to have them as I'm an indigenous man.

"I've told Fisheries as I did not want to get him into trouble.

"Fisheries said 'Are you claiming to be an Aborigine?'. He doubted me.

"I said this is bulls**t.

"All this is is a mate doing a mate a favour. Woe is the day when you can't do a mate a favour."

Mr Hunt said he was challenging the offences as each came with a $1275 penalty, or more than $6000, saying "I felt it was over the top".

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