The accused cattle poacher flees the Gympie courthouse with a jacket over his head.
The accused cattle poacher flees the Gympie courthouse with a jacket over his head. Contributed

Poaching case clash as family protects accused from media

TEMPERS flared outside Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday when accused Widgee cattle poacher Matthew Robert Wakefield emerged from the courthouse to the sight of waiting media.

Mr Wakefield's family and friends tried to shield him from media questions and cameras as he threw a black jacket over his head and ran across Channon St to a waiting vehicle, which was parked in a side street.

Two other people then tried to stop the television camera crews from following him.

One man approached the Channel Seven cameraman who appeared to continue to film as the man shouted at him and flailed his arms about.

That man then went inside the police station and two officers came out to speak with the television crews.

Wakefield yesterday pleaded guilty to four charges, including killing two droughtmaster cattle and stealing their meat, possessing tainted property connected with the killing and stealing and trespassing in the Widgee State Forest.

The court heard Wakefield, after drinking with friends, had committed the offences with another man, but the father and fish filleter said he would take the rap rather than reveal his friend's identity.

The defence said it was not Wakefield who fired the shots from a bow and arrow that killed the two droughtmaster cattle grazing on the land.

The court heard Wakefield and the other man entered Widgee State Forest off Little Widgee Rd between noon, March 23, and 5am, March 24, armed with two compound bows and several arrows, shooting two cows and partially butchering their meat before dumping the carcasses and driving off with the meat.

The court heard the cattle killing was a drunken idea, thought up by Wakefield's friend, and that he had followed through.

The prosecution told the court one of the cows was heavily pregnant and had its living calf removed from its womb and left on the side of the road to die.

The defence stated Wakefield had no recollection of the calf.

The court heard police arrived at Wakefield's home on March 27.

They found and seized two hunting compound bows, arrows and arrow accessories, a knife, a bandsaw, a freezer full of packaged meat and three hind legs dumped on the property, among other things believed to be connected with the killing and stealing of the cattle.

The defence told the court only one of the two bows was used in the offence and that the bows were used by Wakefield for sport.

The court heard Wakefield was upset by the cattle poaching incident, felt "genuine remorse" and had had trouble sleeping in the lead-up to yesterday's court appearance.

After reviewing similar cases, Magistrate Maxine Baldwin told Wakefield jail time was "certainly on the cards".

The matter was adjourned until May 7, to allow Wakefield time to gain further legal advice.

Gympie Times

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