Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Govt defends raid on Dingo campaigner's house

NOOSA: Dingo protection campaigner Jennifer Parkhurst will plead not guilty to more than 40 criminal charges when she fronts court on September 9.

Ms Parkhurst, a vocal lobbyist for greater protection of Fraser Island dingoes, this week broke her silence over the trial, which comes almost a year after state government officials raided her Rainbow Beach home seizing photos, computers, journals and cameras.

Noosa MP and opposition environment spokesman Glen Elmes and a group of Noosa locals continue to support her cause.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management allege the wildlife photographer and Save Fraser Island Dingoes Association member interfered with and fed dingoes on the World Heritage listed sand island over a 13-month period.

If found guilty she faces fines of up to $300,000 or two years’ imprisonment.

Ms Parkhurst told The Noosa Journal this week efforts to have her trial adjourned to allow her defence counsel time to review five folders of prosecution material had been unsuccessful.

"As it stands they’ve set the trial date for September 9, which gives us less than a couple of months to go through their case, which they’ve compiled over eight months with a team of up to five people," she said.

Ms Parkhurst said she lost a member of her counsel after Legal Aid was denied, however Noosa-based Ocean Legal this week confirmed it had joined Ms Parkhurst’s defence after reading about her case in The Noosa Journal.

Kristy Crabb, Barrister of Sunshine Coast Barrister’s Chambers Maroochydore, has also joined her defence, Ocean Legal spokeswoman Marilyn Nuske confirmed.

Ms Parkhurst’s Melbourne-based father’s attempt to re-mortgage his house to fund his daughter’s defence had been unsuccessful, but letters of support arrived daily.

"Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from people telling me to keep up the fight,’’ she said. "I’m so humbled. These are people I don’t even know, and I’m so grateful to have so much support.

"There have been times when I just burst into tears.

"Emails are still coming in from people from all spheres of life even little old ladies.’‘

A book on Ms Parkhurst’s Fraser Island dingo research has been canned due to legal concerns and she said she had lost seven years worth of work seized in the raid.

The case and her concerns about the island, first reported by The Noosa Journal last year, have made national headlines.

Ms Parkhurst has won widespread support from wildlife groups, Aboriginal elders, Noosa locals, civil libertarian lawyer Terry O’Gorman and MP Glen Elmes who previously described the raid on her home as "Gestapo tactics".

Check out the Save the Fraser Island Dingoes page:

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