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Alleged poachers plead ‘not guilty’

Three men facing a raft of poaching-related charges have pleaded not guilty and chosen a jury trial.

Jordan Churchill, Murray Alan Paulin, and a third man with interim name suppression appeared in front of the registrar at Masterton District Court yesterday.

It was their third appearance in court after their first hearing on March 9.

They face charges of unlawful hunting, cruelty to animals, entering agricultural land with intent, and unlawfully carrying and discharging firearms.

The most serious charge is entering agricultural land with intent to commit an imprisonable offence, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The other charges carry lesser maximum penalties from six months to two years behind bars and fines up to $100,000 for unlawful hunting.

Churchill and the man with name suppression, represented by lawyer James Elliott, and Paulin, represented by lawyer Ian Hard, denied all charges and chose a jury trial.

A trial will be scheduled in the Wellington District Court unless police and the defendants reach a resolution before June 6 at 2.30pm.

Wairarapa police have brought several illegal hunting prosecutions in recent years.

In 2019, three men were found guilty of poaching a $11,500 trophy stag from a Masterton game reserve and were each ordered to complete 50 hours of community service and pay $2000 in reparation.

In 2020, police charged two men with illegal hunting after they were photographed while poaching on land near Tinui.

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