Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Martin BROOK, Lee KRINGSBERG and Matthew SKELTON - Environmental Safety

Year: 
2018-2019
Category: 
Environment
Location: 
Northern Territory

On 6 February 2018, Martin Brook, Lee Kringsberg and Matthew Skelton were each convicted for the offence of walking in a Commonwealth reserve other than on road or track. Each individual was fined $1,000 and each were ordered to pay more than $3,000 in reparation.

On 19 September 2016, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (UKTNP) staff were informed that people were descending the Uluru rock formation off the designated track, near Kantju Gorge.

The trio were approximately 700 metres off the marked track, and appeared to be trying to climb down Uluru to a waterhole, located about 100 to 150 metres above ground level.

It was observed that the trio would not be able to get off Uluru safely by climbing back up to the designated walking track, or down to the ground, and NT Police assistance was requested. The trio were directly above an almost vertical section of the monolith.

The rescue operation involved the National Territory Emergency Service (NTES) personnel being dropped to the summit of Uluru by helicopter, and abseiling down to the defendants to assist them to the ground. The operation involved drilling rope anchors into the surface of the rock. 

The rescue required road closures around the incident site, in particular the Uluru Ring road, and the walking track between the Track-head and Mala carpark. This resulted in other visitors being stranded, and having to be shuttled out by a Parks vehicle.

Charges

Brook, Kringsberg and Skelton were each charged with one count of walking in a Commonwealth reserve other than on a road or track, contrary to Regulation 12.55 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (Cth). This offence is a fine-only offence. Each defendant pleaded guilty in the Darwin Local Court and were convicted, and each were ordered to pay a penalty of $1,000.

A reparation order of $8,785 was granted in favour of UKTNP for the cost of the helicopter and rope retrieval. An additional reparation order was granted for $2,327.50 to the NTES for the replacement of equipment. Brook, Kringsberg and Skelton were ordered to repay UKTNP and NTES.