On 31 August, Neil Andrew Simpson was found guilty of a range of offences related to importing and exporting reptiles. He received a total effective sentence of 1 year 10 months and 27 days imprisonment to be released immediately on the condition that he be of good behaviour for the period of the sentence.
Between 13 May 2015 and 2 February 2016, Simpson exported 12 pygmy spiny-tailed skinks to South Korea and tried to export four eastern shinglebacks to Indonesia. He also imported 30 various reptiles from Indonesia, including 11 green tree pythons, three emerald tree monitors, six spotted tree monitors and 10 mangrove monitors.
He used Australia Post to send and receive the animals, and would wrap them inside calico bags and then a towel, or inside coffee mugs or plastic bags.
When the 12 pygmy spiny-tailed skinks were returned to Australia from South Korea uncollected, they were detected by a sniffer dog. Examining the parcel, staff from the Department of Agriculture and Water found it contained seven live skinks and five dead ones. A vet euthanised the live lizards due to biosecurity concerns.
The package containing four eastern shinglebacks Simpson tried to send to Indonesia was detected and intercepted by staff at the Sydney Gateway Facility, who suspected it contained reptiles.
Meanwhile Simpson’s import of 30 exotic specimens from Indonesia saw him act as an intermediary. In return for four green pythons and two emerald monitors, he would distribute the other specimens to Australian parties.
On 12 May 2016, Simpson’s residence in Petersham in Sydney was searched and a mobile phone and USB drive were found to have details of people packages had been sent to in Korea and Indonesia.
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Summary of charges:
- 1 charge of exporting regulated native specimens contrary to s303DD(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)
- 1 charge of attempting to export regulated native specimens contrary to s303DD(1) and s11.1 of the Criminal Code
- 1 charge of importing CITES specimens contrary to s303CD(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)
- 1 charge of importing regulated live specimens contrary to s303EK(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)