First of vegan activists fined by Toowoomba court
THE first of a number of animal rights protesters charged with trespassing on farm land on the Darling Downs has been fined by a Toowoomba court.
Erin Maree Gardner did not make the trek up the Range from her home in Upper Caboolture to appear before Toowoomba Magistrates Court, but sent a letter with her written plea of guilty.
Reading from the 36-year-old's letter, Magistrate Viviana Keegan said the defendant claimed she was a single mother of a 15-year-old child who worked full-time and needed a blue card for her employment.
She said it was the first time she had been charged and that if she took part in any future protests she would make sure all was done legally, Ms Keegan noted.
Police prosecutor Julia Wheaton told the court Gardner had been one of a crowd of about 150 vegan activists protesting the treatment of animals who had ventured onto a feedlot property about 8km outside Millmerran on Saturday, March 23.
The manager of the feedlot ordered the protesters off the property but the intruders had then run across a paddock.
Gardner had been identified because she had appeared in a photograph taken at the time, Senior Constable Wheaton told the court.
She had been located and spoken to by police on April 5 and handed a notice to appear in court, Snr Const. Wheaton said.
Gardner pleaded guilty in writing to a charge of "unlawfully entering farming land" as the charge appeared on the court list.
Magistrate Keegan ordered the conviction not be recorded and fined Gardner $500 which was referred to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry for payment.