A trout poacher has been jailed for four months - about 18 months after he was found guilty of the original charges.

David Pake Leef, 37, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday to three months' jail on charges of disturbing a spawning ground, possessing a net in a vicinity where sports fish congregated and taking the fish. The charges were brought by the Department of Conservation.

He was found guilty of the poaching charges in November 2014, but failed to appear in court for sentencing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Yesterday he pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to appear in court and was sentenced to an additional one month in prison on those charges.

His co-offender Thomas Tawha was sentenced to 12 months in jail in April, 2015.


During sentencing Judge Chris McGuire ordered a woman out of court for continually disrupting proceedings.

Earlier he had told her to be quiet and said he would not have his court turned into a "free for all".

But the woman continued to interrupt, arguing Leef had been at court when he was supposed to, he just hadn't entered the court room.

"Do you take me for a fool? Leave the court," the judge told her.

As she was escorted out by security guards she said, "don't worry we will appeal this case to High Court".

Leef told the court he was sorry for his actions.

"I'm sorry for what I have done. Sorry about the interference with the spawning stream. I won't do that again."

He then addressed Fish & Game officer Anthony van Dorp.


"Mr van Dorp, I'm sorry about upsetting you fellas' sporting stream," Leef said.

Judge McGuire said Leef's offending was less blameworthy than Tawha's, who took twice as many fish.

"I must conclude that you had no justification to take these fish at all."

Leef was also disqualified from driving for six months as he used a car to get to the stream.

Outside court, Mr van Dorp said Fish & Game was pleased to see the matter end.

"The result sends a message. Hopefully others who attempt to poach will sit up and take notice and think twice."

Leef was caught with 10 rainbow trout strung onto a length of rope by Fish & Game rangers at a spawning stream at Lake Rotoiti in 2014. He claimed he was taking trout to eat and for his whanau.

There were six hatchery bred trout and four wild trout. All except one were in spawning condition.