Activists fined for piggery break-in

Activists fined for piggery break-in


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Two activists have been fined after they broke into a piggery near Pinjarra recently.

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VEGAN activists who livestreamed footage on Facebook while inside the former GD Pork piggery in Pinjarra last month were fined a total of $10,000 in the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Friday.

Direct Action Everywhere WA leader James Warden pleaded guilty to two counts of trespass, one at the piggery and another at a Mundijong feedlot where he ignored signage and took photographs of livestock.

He received a $7000 fine from Magistrate Geoff Lawrence.

His accomplice at the piggery was Katrina Sobianina, a graduate teaching student who was fined $3000 for her role in the activity.

The pair broke into the piggery, which was identified on the Aussie Farms online map, in the middle of the night and remained on site filming for more than an hour.

They left the courthouse to the supporter of 30 fellow activists carrying placards and shouting "hero" to Mr Warden.

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) was quick to respond to the ruling saying it "should be a wake-up call for our politicians, as yet another farm intruder makes a joke of Australia's soft trespass laws".

"Despite the conclusive evidence and brazen nature of the offence, the Court allowed Mr Warden to walk free with just one third of the maximum fine," NFF said.

NFF president Fiona Simson said the penalty sent a disturbing message to would-be intruders and is calling on all political parties to commit to action at the Federal Election.

"This is clearly a national issue, and warrants a decisive national response," Ms Simson said.

"The Federal government needs to show leadership, and get State and Territory leaders in the room to design stronger laws.

"We're seeking a commitment from all parties coming into the Federal election that they will act decisively and protect our farms from these trespassers."

The NFF has called on people who share its concerns to sign an online petition at farmers.org.au.

"Farmers are rightly alarmed that their farms can be invaded in the dead of night, streamed live on the internet, only for offenders to walk away with a slap on the wrist," Ms Simson said.

"We're talking about private property, often a stones' throw from family homes where farmers and their families are sleeping.

"This is not just a matter of basic privacy.

"These intruders are placing the biosecurity of our farms and the welfare of our livestock at risk."

The NFF highlighted recent court decisions where a $1 fine was issued to an activist who stole a goat in Gippsland, Victoria, and a $200 fine was issued for a piggery break-in on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, to a "second time offender".

"The law is clearly not keeping up with what's happening here," Ms Simson said.

"These people are not well-intentioned pranksters.

"They form part of a coordinated assault on family homes and businesses, being led by militant and well-resourced activist groups.

"They're garden variety crooks and need to be treated as such."

Many offenders never count the cost of their crimes, with activist groups meeting the cost of legal expenses and fines, or GoFundMe campaigns are launched to cover the costs of their actions.

Mr Warden was also found in possession of pepper spray when Police raided his house.

He said that it was for self defense due to having received death threats.

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