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Bay of Plenty trout poacher jailed

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/05/2016

A convicted trout poacher and self-proclaimed sovereign being who's spent 18 months eluding justice has been consigned to four months behind bars.

Bay of Plenty man David Pake Leef, 37, has this week been sentenced in Rotorua District Court on poaching and breaching bail charges.

Leef was to be dealt with in November 2014 but failed to show up.

His co-accused Thomas Tawha, 43, was jailed for six months in April last year with the judge saying he'd played a larger role than Leef in the poaching.

During Leef's proceedings on Thursday Judge Chris McGuire instructed security guards to remove a woman who repeatedly interrupted proceedings.

He'd already told her he wouldn't have his court turned into a "free for all".

The scene was similar to those played out when Tawha and Leef made earlier appearances, claiming they refused to acknowledge Pakeha law or the judges' right to deal with them.

Leef apologised to an Eastern Fish & Game officer in the court saying "I'm sorry about upsetting you fellas' spawning stream".

In a 2014 judge-alone trial, Judge Jim Weir found both men guilty of poaching substantial numbers of trout from a spawning stream at Lake Rotoiti, east of Rotorua.

They'd been caught carrying trout from the area and holding fishing nets.

Following Leef's sentencing Eastern Fish & Game said the jail terms sent a strong message that trout poaching is taken seriously by the courts.

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