Fairy Meadow abalone poacher on notice

A Fairy Meadow man who took 150 times the allowable number of abalone from the ocean near Batemans Bay will avoid spending time behind bars.

John Henry Carriage, 44, was yesterday successful in his bid to have Wollongong District Court suspend a prison sentence he received in September for his role in the removal of 300 abalone from the sea at Kioloa, near Bawley Point, on June 15, 2010.

The allowable limit is two per person, documents before the court said.

Carriage was convicted of two charges under the Fisheries Management Act; possessing a prohibited-sized fish and having more fish than the allowable limit.

He received a seven-month prison term on one charge, with a non-parole period of four months, and a three-month sentence on the other, both to run concurrently.

Carriage immediately lodged an appeal against the sentence, claiming it was too severe.

During his District Court appearance yesterday, Carriage’s lawyer, Tim McKenzie, said his client had already spent two months in jail last year for a similar offence that occurred before this incident, and did not want to spend any more time behind bars.

He said Carriage, a father of three, had every reason not to reoffend.

The Crown opposed any reduction in the sentence.

In suspending the prison term, Judge Paul Conlon said Carriage had not reoffended since he was caught with the illegal catch.

‘‘That period of two months [jail for previous offence] seems to have caused him to reassess where he is heading in the future,’’ Judge Conlon said.

‘‘I’m going to give him the opportunity to get his life back on track.’’

Judge Conlon told Carriage if he committed any crimes during his seven-month sentence he could end up serving the rest of the term behind bars.