16 May 2018

Man who damaged native trees will serve prison time

5:50 pm on 16 May 2018

An Auckland man who severely damaged seven native trees - despite knowing he didn't have the resource consent to do so - has had his appeal against a prison sentence dismissed.

kauri tree

Photo: 123RF

Ee Kuoh Lau, a property developer also known as Augustine Lau, gave instructions to a contractor to get rid of the trees on a rural property in Waiwera in 2014.

Prior to that, Auckland Council officers had visited the site more than 20 times to inspect the works being managed by Mr Lau.

He was told on numerous occasions to stop felling native trees at the site.

Mr Lau was on trial by jury for the offending when he pleaded guilty.

Judge Kellar sentenced Mr Lau to prison for two months and two weeks and said that it was "hard to imagine a more deliberate case".

The property developer is a repeat offender for removing plants and has been handed previous enforcement orders for unauthorised dwellings and wastewater discharges.

Mr Lau owed the Auckland Council about $379,000 which he has made no attempt to pay, said Judge Kellar

In a decision released by the Court of Appeal today, it said in its view, a longer term would have been justified.

It said Mr Lau's offending was "cynical and deliberate" and his track record showed his "disdain for environmental rules".