A judge has upheld a guilty verdict against a Sydney holiday maker who killed a great white shark found swimming in Sussex Inlet during school holidays.
Justin Adam Clark was on holidays with his family at the popular South Coast spot in January 2012 when he and other boaters noticed the 2.5 metre-long shark inside the inlet.
Clark, who was in an aluminimum runabout boat, initially raised the alarm with the caravan park owner, and then set about trying to herd the animal out to sea using his boat.
Others also joined in the effort, with the group spending two hours trying to remove the animal from the inlet, to no avail.
When authorities failed to show up to deal with the animal, Clark eventually herded the shark into shallow waters and used his boat to hit it a number of times and slash it with the propeller.
A rope was tied to the animal’s tail and a second vessel towed it to a boat ramp before it was bashed to death with a metal pole.
During an interview with authorities three days later, Clark said he thought he was doing a good deed, and his motivation was to remove the shark from the water given the large number of swimmers and the danger the animal posed.
He admitted he couldn’t identify the species of shark, but conceded it had "never crossed my mind" that it could be a great white - a protected species - and instead thought it was a bronze whaler or mako shark.
"It didn’t look like one," he said, although concede he didn’t know much about sharks.
"All the sharks I have been told about in Sussex Inlet in the past have been [bronze] whalers...there was talk around the [caravan park] that there was a mako shark around.
"If I’d have known it was a great white I would have taken a different stance."
Clark pleaded not guilty to a charge of harming a threatened species of fish, but was found guilty after a local court hearing earlier this year and ordered to pay almost $20,000 in fines and costs.
He appealed the decision to the district court, with his lawyer, Mitchell Paish, on Friday arguing Clark had made an "honest and reasonable mistake" in not identifying the shark as a great white.
He said his client was simply a man who had performed a Good Samaritan act, "putting himself in danger" and had been hauled before the court as a result.
Presiding Judge Paul Conlon sympathised with Clark, saying he understood that people would have been rightly concerned on the day.
However, he said he was not satisfied Clark had really "turned his mind" to what species of shark it was, and therefore his mistake wasn’t honest and reasonable, and he was guilty of the offence.
Despite the verdict, Judge Conlon agreed to wipe the fines and not record a conviction against Clark, noting he had not deliberately gone out that day intending to hunt and kill, and it was not an "indiscriminate attack" against the shark.