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‘I am so glad to be out of jail’: Fishing trawler owner speaks of ‘great sense of justice’

‘I am so glad to be out of jail’: Fishing trawler owner speaks of ‘great sense of justice’

Fishing trawl operator Andrew Smith is speaking of the “great sense” of justice that has allowed him to stay out of prison and remain in the fishing industry.

The 34-year-old from New South Wales was jailed for seven years and nine months after being convicted of illegally catching and selling fish from a trawling vessel off the coast of Queensland.

Mr Smith told the ABC that his conviction was “a slap in the face” to the fisherman industry and said he hoped to serve his time in a community prison before he dies.

“I’m grateful to be in a halfway house and I hope to live out my life as a free man and not in a jail cell,” he said.

“It’s a great sense of injustice to me to be locked up for seven and nine years and I’m glad I’m out of there.”

And I think that if the fishing community would have stood up and done the right thing in Queensland, I would still be alive today.

“Mr Smith was one of three people convicted of the offence at the Queensland Court of Appeal in September this year.

He was sentenced to six years in jail, with the maximum penalty of 15 years, after admitting the illegal catch on the Gold Coast in November 2014.

The other two convicted of fishing illegally off the Gold and Black coasts are: Mr Smith’s wife, Jill, and his son, Chris, who was also arrested for fishing illegally from their boat.

Mr Adam was acquitted on two counts of fishing and the other two charges of fishing without a licence.

Both of them are due to appear in the Federal Court in Queensland next month.

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