Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Garry ROBINSON - Influencing a commonwealth official in regard to exporting live sheep

Year: 
2017-2018
Category: 
Illegal Imports and Exports
Location: 
Western Australia

On 22 May 2018, the former general manager for a Perth-based livestock exporter was sentenced in the District Court of Western Australia to 18 months’ jail, suspended immediately and released on a $20,000 recognisance order to be of good behaviour for 18 months, for falsifying official documents that saw some 22,000 sheep slaughtered in Pakistan.

On 30 July 2012, Garry Robinson was working as a general manager for Wellard Rural Exports Pty Ltd, when he received approval from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to export a consignment of live sheep from Australia to Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.  This export departed Australia on 4 August 2012 on board the MV Ocean Drover.

Some sheep were offloaded in Oman and Qatar, however due to circumstances beyond Wellard’s control, some 22,000 head of sheep remaining on the vessel were turned away by Bahrain. Robinson then sought approval from the Australian Government to redirect the ship to a buyer in Pakistan. In seeking that approval Robinson provided forged documents to officials.

Knowing the sheep on board didn’t meet Pakistan’s import requirements as set out in a letter from the Pakistani Government, Robinson caused another Wellard employee under his supervision to unwittingly alter the letter and draft a certificate of health to meet Pakistan’s requirements, and make the sheep appear eligible to be imported into the country. 

He then provided these fraudulent documents to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the sheep were offloaded into Port Qasim, Pakistan, on 4 September 2012.

Robinson’s crime was not uncovered until 2014 when irregularities in paperwork relating to the Pakistan voyage came to light. By then Robinson was working for another Western Australia exporter, having left Wellard in December 2012.

Charges/sentence

On 22 May 2018, 46-year-old Garry Robinson was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, to be released immediately after entering into a recognisance of $20,000 to be of good behavior for 18 months in relation to:

  • 1 charge of general dishonesty influencing a Commonwealth public official, contrary to s135.1(7) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

Sentencing remarks

District Court Judge Michael Gething said Robinson clearly knew what he was doing when he instigated a plan to alter documents provided by Pakistani officials and sent a doctored letter to the Australian Government, emailing the Pakistani importer two days earlier saying that “For this it means to AQIS [the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service] we do not need to test or vaccinate”.

Judge Gething said “there was an element of persistence” in Robinson’s offending, which was underlined by the fact that but for the altered documents, the Ocean Drover would not have been approved to redirect to Pakistan, which resulted in half the sheep unloaded there not being culled according to animal welfare recommendations.

The Judge also said the offending had diplomatic consequences for Australia, when representatives incorrectly asserted that animal health requirements were verified with Pakistani officials before Australia issued a health certificate, as well as the live export industry, which voluntarily suspended live exports to Pakistan in January 2013.