Gordon Wolfe has won his appeal of two illegal fishing charges under the B.C. Fisheries Act.
Wolfe had previously been found guilty on charges of fishing with a barbed hook and using illegal bait. A third charge, obstruction, was dismissed during the original trial in September 2012.
He was fined $1,500 for each of the Fisheries Act charges and prohibited from fishing for 18 months.
Wolfe also had to forfeit the fishing gear he had with him when he was arrested.
Both the convictions and the sentence were appealed by Wolfe.
“It was a matter of principle,” Wolfe said. “I felt I was wrongfully convicted. I kind of felt like I was cheated. There were no fisheries violations that occurred that day.”
On Sept. 6 Hon. Justice Ehrcke presented the reasons for making the order for a new trial. In the original trial, the judge found Wolfe to not be a credible witness. The question of Wolfe’s credibility was due to what Justice Ehrcke called a, “misapprehension of evidence.”
Wolfe said his fines were heavy handed, amounting to 10 times the normal ticket handed out in such cases, especially considering these were his first charges.
“In my opinion, they singled me out,” Wolfe said.
After the original trial, Conservation Service Sgt. Kevin Nixon said the judge wanted to make an example of Wolfe as he was a former employee of the Fish and Wildlife branch of the Ministry of Environment.
“For a judge to assess a fine of $1,500 for each offence definitely sends a message,” Nixon said. “It’s a good precedent and will certainly send a message to the public.”
The charges stem from a Nov. 11, 2009 incident in which Conservation Officer Cam Schley observed Wolfe fishing on the Bulkley River with what he thought was illegal tackle and bait.
A decision will be made in the next few weeks as to whether the charges will be re-filed or stayed by the Crown.