Ministry of Primaries Industries v Arthur  NZDC 16041
Published 23 October 2019
Sentencing — importation of plant material — unauthorised — biosecurity risks — genetic engineering — introduced weeds — introduced pests — Biosecurity
Act 1993 — Sentencing Act 2002.
The defendant appeared for sentence on four charges (two of them representative) of illegally importing plant material in breach of the Biosecurity Act. The plant
material included muse corms, seeds and seedlings, from species including jackfruit, rambatan, papaya, tamarind and banana. The defendant had imported the
material covertly, requesting the overseas senders to provide false customs declarations descriptions of the plant material.
The Court considered the charges serious, given the large amount of material imported, the premeditation, and the potential biosecurity risks to the country from
imported weeds, pests and diseases. In mitigation, the defendant was motivated not by malice or profit but by his concerns about the threats posed to the
country's plant diversity and purity by genetic engineering. The Court set a start point for sentence at 15 months' imprisonment, citing the need for denunciation
and deterrence. After discounts for remorse, cooperation, low risk of reoffending, good character and guilty plea, the sentence was reduced to nine months'
imprisonment, which the Court converted to six months' community detention and 100 hours' community work. Judgment Date: 14 August 2019.