Stock rustling co-accused appear in court

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Two men charged over $312,000 worth of stock rustling at one of New Zealand’s largest deer farms have appeared in Queenstown District Court today.

Wanaka man Simon Robert Hawkins, 28, and Motueka farm manager Dean Thomas Herd, 36, jointly face 24 indictably-laid charges of stealing stock near the Cardrona Valley between September 2009 and December 2011.

The charges include stealing 632 deer, 12 stags, 124 sheep, barley, hard antler and deer velvet, with the total value being $312,000. Most of the stock was taken from Criffel Station on the outskirts of Wanaka.

Herd also faces three individual charges relating to stealing a computer and farm equipment, totaling $7330.

Herd pleaded guilty to six of the charges today but the court didn’t hear which charges they were.

Hawkins’ lawyer Phena Byrne indicated that her client would strongly oppose the charges, adding that Hawkins was the one who went to police last September with one of the complainants.

She says he has been cooperative with police and that he only became aware that he would face charges just before Christmas.

Hawkins is a 28-year-old married father of two who has lived in Wanaka for about 15 years. Byrne says he is a well-known member of the community and has a lot of support.

Hawkins has been remanded on bail till April 24, when a post-committal conference will be held.

Herd will be sentenced for the six charges on April 24, which is also the date of his post-committal conference.