Stink over garlic imports results in jail time

Stink over garlic imports lands industry leader in jail


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JAIL TIME: Letetia Anne Ware is escorted from the Hobart Supreme Court. Photo by Emily Jarvie.

JAIL TIME: Letetia Anne Ware is escorted from the Hobart Supreme Court. Photo by Emily Jarvie.

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The former head of the Australian Garlic Industry Association has copped jail time for breaching biosecurity.

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The former head of the Australian Garlic Industry Association has been sentenced to 11 months jail for illegally importing garlic bulbs.

Ayiana director Letetia Ware pleaded guilty to importing garlic bulbs over a three-year period for the purposes of commercial cultivation, without the required import permit.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania sentenced Ms Ware to 11 months jail time, with a non-parole period of two months.

She was also placed on a three-year good behaviour bond.

The court heard Ms Ware imported a total of 2186 bulbs across 21 occasions.

Justice Gregory Geason said garlic in the United States and Canada is known to host "high risk" plant pathogens.

By illegally importing the bulbs, Ms Ware put at risk the entire agriculture sector.

"The law reflects the fact this risk exists," Justice Geason said.

"There is no hierarchy of risk, just risk.

"The law you have ignored is to protect Australia's biosecurity.

"Your conduct demonstrates you [think you] are above Australia's quarantine laws."

Justice Geason said the persistent nature of Ms Ware's "arrogant" offending, over the course of an 18-month period, factored into her sentence.

The Tasmanian court was told that Ms Ware would contact her suppliers and ask them to misdeclare the garlic orders as garden supplies in a bid to avoid being detected by authorities.

Justice Geason said Ms Ware's conduct showed she was clearly aware of the laws in place.

"You cannot claim this is a mere aberration," Justice Geason said.

"This conduct [only] ceased because you were caught."

Garlic can carry one of Australia's biggest plant threats, the Xylella fastidiosa disease,that affects more than 350 species of native, commercial and garden plants.

Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the illegal imports put Australia's $7 billion horticulture industry at serious risk

An outbreak of Xylella could severely disrupt crop production, and cause the quarantining of properties.

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