A Kangaroo Valley man who pleaded guilty to stealing $30,000 worth of cattle has been placed on an 18-month community corrections order and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service.
Geoffrey Keith Sharman, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing cattle in Nowra Local Court in May.
He was sentenced in Nowra court on Monday, November 5. Magistrate Gabriel Fleming also ordered he pay $3000 compensation.
Officers from the Rural Crime Prevention Team, attached to the Monaro Police District, under the banner of Strike Force Bushby, were formed in December 2017 to investigate cattle theft from properties in the Kangaroo Valley.
During the investigation two steers were seized from Moss Vale in January 2018 and nine Angus heifers were seized from a property in Upper Kangaroo River in May 2018.
Following investigations officers arrested Sharman, who also had property in the area, over the theft on July 2.
The court heard the theft of the nine 12-18-month-old Angus heifers took place in early December 2017.
A neighbour was alerted cattle were out in the area and sent his property manager to identify whose animals they were however the manager could not find the cattle.
The court heard Sharman had found the animals, which carried his neighbour’s ear tags and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) buttons, and mustered the nine heifers across the river to his property.
It was there he removed the ear tags and NLIS buttons, placing in his own tags before turning the heifers out into a large mob of 60 cattle running on the neighbouring property.
When approached by the neighbouring property manager Sharman allegedly said he had returned the cattle, mustering them through the property and put them through a specific gate at the corner of a paddock.
However the manager told investigators he inspected the gate in question and could not see any evidence of cattle movement - the long grass had not been trampled and there was no manure evident.
The owners of the cattle discovered they were missing the nine heifers on December 5 and alerted the Rural Crime Investigators.
Court papers said in mid December the owners managed to take a number of photographs of animals believed to be theirs on the neighbouring property.
In facts tendered to the court investigators said Sharman had yarded the nine heifers at night on January 23 and had administered medication to make the heifers abort any unborn calves, cut new earmarks into their ears before loading them onto a truck and taking them to another property several kilometres away.
Another neighbour reported two steers, a Angus and Murray Grey, missing from Upper Kangaroo River sometime between November 24 and December 5.
The property manager spotted the two animals for sale at the Moss Vale Saleyards on January 23 and alerted authorities.
Investigations led back to Sharman.
Court papers said it was not known how Sharman had got the two steers or if they had possibly strayed off their land.
Investigators spoke to Sharman, who consented to an inspection of his property in Upper Kangaroo River and other leased land and found the suspected stolen nine heifers.
When questioned Sharman alleged his neighbour’s bull had strayed onto his property and joined his cows however that was ruled out through DNA testing of tail hairs of the animals.
Officers also intercepted a number of phone calls by Shraman in which he continually changed his story.
Magistrate Gabriel Fleming heard Sharman suffered from mental health issues and couldn’t recall removing the ear tags.
She considered a number of glowing personal references for Sharman before placing him on the 18-month community corrections order.