Horse trap conviction quashed

A TUMBARUMBA man has had convictions quashed on five charges relating to the alleged trapping of brumbies.

James Edward Kelton, 63, of “Brandy Marys”, pleaded not guilty to charges of having a trapping device in a Crown lease and four counts of taking an animal in state forest.

But he was convicted by magistrate Tony Murray at Tumbarumba Local Court last year after a two-day hearing and fined a total of $1000.

Mr Kelton lodged an appeal against the conviction and sentence which was heard in the District Court in Sydney last month.

He was represented by barrister Ken Averre in the appeal and the judge reviewed the evidence given before Mr Murray.

It had been alleged that Mr Kelton set up a trap on a boundary fence of a block leased by him and a forestry employee told police about it in June 2012.

But it was claimed by Mr Kelton that a forestry employee had given him permission after an audit to trap brumbies.

Mr Kelton said he was acting in accordance with the conditions of his lease and complying with the Foresty Act by removing feral animals.

Albury police stock squad officer Sen-Constable Scott Barton took a photograph of the trap which was produced as part of the evidence before Mr Murray.

Mr Kelton said yesterday he was seeking legal advice about taking civil action against the police and Forestry Corporation.

It is his belief a vendetta has been waged against him which has cost taxpayers more than $30,000 without convictions against him.

He said there had been three police raids on his property which have caused great anxiety for him and his wife, Mary.

“We are talking about raids where police officers have crashed through our front gates on three occasions over the last six years,” Mr Kelton said.

He said on one occasion 12 officers in uniform and plain clothes attended his property.

“That was absolutely ridiculous and surely a great waste of police resources and manpower,” Mr Kelton said.

Both Mr Kelton and his wife started standing up the Foresty Corporation about 11 years ago.

“Surely it is not a criminal offence in this state attempting to protect the established high ecological and Aboriginal cultural heritage values contained within our state forest Crown leases,” he said.

“I still ask myself what has been the intended consequences of all these attempts by forestry and the police other than to discredit me, especially in the eyes of the public.”

Mr Kelton said it has been his intention to manage his leases effectively to protect a range of threatened species, ecological communities and populations known to occur within them.