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Published: 2004-04-07 00:00:00

Morrinsville farmers Bill and Donald Cox have been convicted and fined $900 and $500 respectively and ordered to pay a total of $452 each in prosecution costs for obstructing two Environment Waikato enforcement officers investigating a complaint.

The brothers appeared in the Hamilton District Court last week on charges that arose from an incident in May 2001, when the two officers and two police officers went to the defendants’ farm to investigate a complaint of unlawful spreading of wastewater on a tanker track.

Judge McElrea said the brothers objected to the inspection in a belligerent and threatening manner and intended to get in the way of the officers. The defendants behaved in a way that was outside of the behaviour acceptable within the wider community.

The prosecution sought the maximum penalty of $1500 and an order for Bill Cox to attend an anger management course. Judge McElrea said while it might be helpful for Mr Cox to get assistance, the defendants were intelligent enough to hear the message and act on it. Mr Cox had previously been convicted on assault charges against two other enforcement officers in 2000.

The defendants’ behaviour had been very bad conduct, but was at the lower end of the obstruction scale, he said.

Environment Waikato Resource Use Group Manager Chris McLay said the Council took a very serious view of unwarranted and aggressive behaviour towards its staff, and in appropriate cases would consider criminal prosecutions against deliberate offenders.