Two men have been found guilty of intentionally scuttling a boat in an Auckland marine reserve.
John Peter Lanssen and Cain Subritzky both appeared in the District Court before Chief Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick last Thursday, alongside a third defendant who was later acquitted.
They each faced one charge under section 15A of the Resource Management Act.
In July 2019, Lanssen and Subritzky approached the boat’s owner, David Randell, and offered to dispose of the vessel for $10,000 after it had broken from its moorings during a storm and run aground on rocks near Whakanewha Reserve on Waiheke Island.
The men came to an agreement Lanssen and Subritzy would salvage as much of the vessel as possible, before breaking down the masts and cabin and dropping them into the hull of the boat to be set on fire. The hull was then to be broken up and taken to landfill, where it would be buried.
However, after receiving full payment, the two men instead enlisted the help of a third party to tow the vessel to a site between Woodside Bay and Rocky Bay on Waiheke Island, where it was deliberately scuttled.
Councillor Linda Cooper, who chairs Auckland Council’s Regulatory Committee, welcomed the verdicts and said it should act as a lesson for others who are looking to make money at the expense of the environment.
"These two men live on Waiheke and it saddens me that instead of wanting to help preserve the sanctity of the Marine Park, they instead chose to sink a boat in a known protected area for their own financial gain," she said.
"The disposal of material in a coastal marine area can have untold adverse effects on the marine environment and on wildlife, and I’m so thankful that a member of the public reported the incident so that the vessel could be recovered quickly."
Auckland Council's Kerri Fergusson said the council will not hesitate to prosecute other offenders in the future.
"Not only can the disposal of a vessel in a Marine Park have catastrophic effects on the ecology of the area and the marine life within, but it can also pose a navigational hazard to those out on the water, especially if the harbourmaster is unaware," Fergusson said.
"These men knew the risks and decided to proceed anyway.
"I am pleased to see that this issue was not taken lightly by the courts and want it to be known that we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who chooses to flagrantly break the law and put our valuable ecosystem at risk."
Lanssen and Subritzky will be sentenced on July 28.