A Christchurch botanical artist who imported unauthorised Marimo moss balls into New Zealand has been discharged without conviction.

Raquel Elise Miranda was sentenced today in Christchurch District Court.

Miranda, 38, bought marimo moss balls (Cladophora aegagropila) on the AliExpress online store and got them posted to her Christchurch home.

The Brazilian-born trained biologist used the green algae in terrariums - mini gardens enclosed in glass - that she then sold at Christchurch farmers markets.


But the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) alleged Miranda imported the moss balls illegally between February and June 2016 and knew they were unauthorised goods.

At a judge-alone trial in March she was found guilty on three charges that MPI prosecutor Grant Fletcher said related to obtaining a new organism and failing to inform MPI "as soon as practicable in the circumstances of the presence of an organism not normally seen or otherwise detected in New Zealand" in breach of the Biosecurity Act.

She was also found guilty of acquiring the unauthorised moss balls recklessly and also of disposing them.

At sentencing today, Miranda sought a discharge without conviction on three charges of obtaining a new organism and failing to tell the ministry of its presence, recklessly obtaining the unauthorised organisms, and selling them.

Stuff reported that Judge Farish convicted and discharged Miranda without any further penalty, saying the defendant had been the victim of "an internet lynch mob".

"All the punishment has already been meted out to you by the social media," the judge said.

Miranda had to close her art business because of the social media backlash after her trial in March.

A final charge alleging she made a misleading statement to officials was not accepted.