Lawyer says client didn't know skull 'ornament' was real
A GLADSTONE man had no idea the skull ornament hanging on his wall was in fact not an ornament, but the skull of a protected crocodile species, a lawyer has claimed.
Neville John Holdaway's seemingly innocent market purchase nearly 20 years ago has landed before the Gladstone Magistrates Court.
The 52-year-old pleaded guilty to several charges including one count of keeping or using taken protected animal, contravene order about information necessary to access information stored electronically, possess dangerous drugs, utensils and property suspected to be used in the commission of a drug offence.
The court was told on October 31, 2018 at Calliope police executed a search warrant at Holdaway's home.
Officers gave Holdaway his rights and precautions and asked him whether he had anything to declare.
The man led police to his bedroom where police found four clip-seal bags with about 78g of marijuana in total.
"That's all I've got," Holdaway told police.
"It's just bush weed."
But when police asked Holdaway for the password to his phone, he flat out refused.
The court was told this was not to deter police from finding any criminal information but to "protect" his personal information.
When police told Holdaway it was an offence he said "charge me then, because I'm not giving it to you".
Police also noticed the crocodile skull Holdaway had displayed at the entry of his home. Holdaway told police it was fake.
The crocodile skull had a bullet hole to one side of its eye socket and was missing teeth.
Holdaway was taken to the watch-house and released on bail.
Defence lawyer Ryan Mitchell told the court his client bought the skull at a market sale in 2001 and believed it was fake.
Mr Mitchell said as for the drugs, his client had been smoking marijuana for the past 15 years to self-medicate his diagnosis of bi-polar.
Mr Mitchell said his client, a part-time labourer and father accepted "that was not an excuse".
Magistrate Dennis Kinsella fined Holdaway $700 and recorded a conviction.
The crocodile skull was forfeited to the Crown.