Former Federal MP Wilson Tuckey has urged people to challenge fines if they believed they were unjust after he was this morning acquitted of allegations he cut back a tree on the banks near his riverfront property without a permit.
Mr Tuckey and his son Michael Wilson Tuckey were both found not guilty this morning after a Perth Magistrate's Court trial that was held last month.
The pair had each elected to fight the $200 fines that alleged they had cut a casuarina tree without a permit.
The court had heard the pair - who represented themselves in their trial - were accused of using a chainsaw on the tree at Mr Tuckey Sr's Ascot property on September 26, 2010.
Today, the magistrate said the tree involved was in an area controlled by the Swan River Trust but that there was not evidence in the circumstantial case to prove the pair had cut the branch.
She said the evidence was consistent with them removing a branch that had fallen in the river.
Outside court, the former politician said his case served as a message to other West Australians to think twice before paying fines and consider having "their day in court".
"They (the government) send people infringement notices and obviously without sufficient evidence to substantiate the infringement notice," he said. "But the average citizen has got so much in the habit of paying infringement notices for fear of the cost involved."
"People should not be pushed around by these quasi authorities."
"The question is not what I did or didn't do," Mr Tuckey Snr said. "The question is was there good reason to prosecute my son and I. We should never have been sent an infringement notice on the basis of the evidence that collapsed completely in court."
Infringement notices were issued to the pair after Swan River Trust officers were contacted by a resident who was concerned that foreshore trees were being cut back.
“Foreshore vegetation is a critical part of the river ecosystem because it provides foreshore stability, habitat for wildlife and helps to prevent erosion,” Trust Riverpark Manager Chris Mather said.
“The Tuckeys elected to have the matter heard in court and the magistrate has today determined that the case against them was not proved beyond reasonable doubt and has dismissed the charges.”
Mr Mather said the Trust accepted the court’s decision. He stressed that protection of foreshore vegetation was critical and people should contact the Trust for advice on what approvals were required if they were considering removing or clearing vegetation.