Killer farmer’s family hit with record $700k fine

THE family of the NSW farmer who murdered an environment officer have been slapped with fines exceeding $700,000 for illegally clearing koala habitat twice the size of Centennial Park.

Grant Wesley Turnbull and his nephew Cory Ian Turnbull both pleaded guilty to clearing thousands of trees on their properties near Moree in 2012.

 

Grant's father, Ian Turnbull, died earlier this year while serving a 35-year sentence for shooting dead Glen Turner, 51, and detaining his colleague, Robert Strange, in 2014.

Police at death scene.
Police at death scene.

The two NSW environment officers had been carrying out compliance work near the farmer's property at Croppa Creek in the state's north before the incident.

Land Environment Court Chief Justice Brian Preston on Tuesday said both men lacked remorse for their "significant" environmental harm to vegetation and threatened animals including the koala and Grey-crowned Babbler.

Victim Glen Turner.
Victim Glen Turner.

 

Both entered late pleas of guilty that he described as admissions to "only the essential elements" of illegally clearing native vegetation. "(They) contested every fact forming the basis for sentence for the offence," he said.

The $393,750 fine handed to Cory, who was found to have cleared 316 hectares and about 3700 trees on his Croppa Creek property, was a record for the court for the offence.

His uncle was fined $315,000 for clearing 103 hectares of land and more than 1000 trees.

The Turnbulls were also ordered to pay the costs of the Office of Environment and Heritage.

"The sentences send a clear message that the court takes the protection of native vegetation very seriously," the office's chief executive, Anthony Lean, said in a statement.


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