That sinking feeling - 'belligerent' boat owner fined $66,000

21 November 2019

A man has been ordered to pay $66,000 for leaving a trail of boats illegally moored on waterways across NSW.

Magistrate Peter Barnett at Belmont Local Court described 56 year-old Kristoffer Mitchell as having a “belligerent and selfish” attitude and told him NSW taxpayers were not there to fund his business.

Mitchell has a long history of keeping boats in a poor condition and attempting to sell them via online sale websites.

Over six months this year, he bought 14 vessels, two of which sank and a further six were seized by the NSW Government to prevent them sinking or causing pollution hazards.

He has repeatedly ignored official notices to remove boats which he has left illegally moored on Sydney Harbour, Lake Macquarie, the Hunter River, and in Camden Haven at Laurieton.

Mitchell, who was in attendance, unrepresented and declined assistance in court from Legal Aid NSW, pleaded guilty to 12 charges for failing to comply with Notices to Remove the eight vessels, and occupying a mooring without a licence.

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings said it cost NSW taxpayers $45,000 to tow, salvage, store and dispose these eight vessels which were left illegally on other people’s moorings and emergency moorings, often blocking a waterway or partially sinking leading to environmental concerns.

“It’s a lesson to all boaties to follow the rules which are there for the benefit of all water users and also a reminder that a $250 fine for a vessel obstructing a mooring can reach up to $5500 once a matter is being considered by a court,” Mr Hutchings said.

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