Attachment to snakes lands two men in court
PET snakes are not everyone's cup of tea but two men in Gympie Magistrates Court this week were quite attached to the scaly reptiles.
Ashley Keith Austin, 24, of Tin Can Bay and Kaynen Lee James Yule, 20, of Kilkivan, appeared on separate charges related to being in possession of protected animals.
Police searched Austin's Tin Can Bay home on June 2, and found three snakes, including two carpet snakes and a solitary spotted python, in a tank in the carport.
The animals were seized by the Kingaroy Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad on June 9, and handed in to the Gympie Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service office.
Austin's lawyer said his client identified as Aboriginal and thought "it would be okay to keep such animals" without a permit.
Austin had purchased one of the snakes from someone who held a licence, while the other two were sourced via Facebook.
The court heard he suffered from epilepsy and his lack of knowledge about keeping wildlife led to the error.
Yule, meanwhile, was found with a five-foot long carpet snake on June 30, when police searched his Kilkivan home.
He was found to have no permit despite having owned the snake for 10 years.
Yule had formed a strong bond with his snake and was keen for its return, going as far as recently obtaining a permit to lawfully own it.
Magistrate Maxine Baldwin did as much as she could for the man, reminding him that "rules are the rules" but not asking for the snake to be forfeited.
Yule was told he would need to take the matter of his pet's return up with Queensland Parks and Wildife.
The Kilkivan man pleaded guilty to keeping a protected animal and was fined $600, referred to SPER. He had no conviction recorded.
Austin's sentencing was complicated by additional drug charges arising from the June 2 search of his home.
He pleaded guilty to being in possession of property suspected of having been used in connection with a drug offence and possessing drugs. Police found 40 grams of cannabis and a set of electronic scales.
Austin was placed on a four-month, $440 good behaviour bond with an order for drug diversion for the drug offences, and fined $1000 for keeping the three snakes.
Forfeiture of the snakes was ordered as a formality. .
"I've not had (a case of keeping a protected animal) in seven years but two this morning," the bemused magistrate said.