A second animal activist has been convicted in Goulburn Local Court.
David Coulter, 46, from Sydney, pleaded guilty to charges of entering inclosed lands and interfering with the conduct of business and hindering police when he appeared in Goulburn Local Court on Wednesday, May 15.
In court, Coulter was referred to by the police prosecutor as "the ringleader" of the raid on April 8 at Southern Meats abattoir in the early hours of April 8.
Also read: Nine animal rights protesters arrested at Southern Meats
He was heavily fined, placed on a Community Corrections Order and ordered to pay compensation.
Police facts tendered in court said that at 2am on April 8, a group of nine people entered the Southern Meats facility after the gate was opened.
They avoided detection until 4am, when it was discovered they had chained themselves to a conveyor belt used during the slaughter process.
The accused, David Coulter, handed a list of demands to a Southern Meats staff member, who had asked them to leave.
Police were contacted at 4.20am and they arrived shortly afterwards. Chief Inspector John Sheehan (wearing body worn video camera) asked the protesters to remove the chains and warned them that failure to do so may result in arrest.
They failed to do so and Police Rescue was called to assist in cutting the chains, which were under PVC piping.
Coulter was cut from the restraint, offering no further resistance. Once the others were removed the protesters were taken to Goulburn Police Station and charged.
In court, Coulter's solicitor said her client was born in the UK but came to Australia in 1999.
"He developed a deep love for animals in his life after his pet dog died of cancer," the solicitor said.
"It made him sensitive to the suffering of all animals. He volunteers in animal shelters. He felt compelled to participate in these national actions on April 8.
"He knows this does not excuse his actions but hopes it might provide an understanding to his behaviour."
She said Coulter had no prior convictions.
"He acknowledges the disruption it would have caused and regrets breaking the law to raise concerns of a moral issue he is committed to," she said.
"He is unlikely to commit further offences."
She said a conviction might affect his employment as well as be detrimental to him travelling overseas. As such, she asked that a conviction not be recorded against him.
Police prosecutor sergeant Fiona Ryan objected to this.
"Goulburn Police Chief Inspector John Sheehan has indicated to me that Mr Coulter was the ringleader on the day," Ms Ryan said.
"He was the one who handed up the list of demands to a Southern Meat's staff member.
"Not imposing a conviction would be inappropriate in this instance because of his higher role in the events of that day. A conviction is required for general deterrence against these activities."
Magistrate Geraldine Beattie agreed and said in causing himself to be constrained to a conveyor belt, he had caused Southern Meats to lose 26 production units on the day, which amounted to a loss of just below $5000.
"The objective seriousness of the matter places your culpability as higher than the others," Ms Beattie said.
"We have heard what Chief Inspector Sheehan has said about this. You handed a list of demands to a staff member. There is a significant need to deter others from this activity.
"You have the right to express an opinion and to protest but it needs to be done within the confines of the law. There are other ways to raise awareness. This is not the way to do it.
"You have placed no evidence before the court that your employment will be affected by a conviction.
"Given your role in the activity, the penalty needs to be higher than the other sentence I gave earlier today."
She convicted Coulter and placed him on a 12-month Community Corrections Order, fined him $1800 and ordered him to pay $621 compensation to Southern Meats and $52 to NSW Police.