Rockingham man fined for ‘flagrant’ business breach

A ROCKINGHAM business owner has been convicted for the second time this year for business-related issues.

Robert James Sneyd appeared at the Rockingham Magistrates Court charged with one count of occupying or using a completed building without an occupancy or temporary permit.

Sneyd was earlier convicted at the same courts for discharging a prohibited material into the environment, and fined $6500.

A City of Rockingham prosecutor said Sneyd was the owner of an industrial property on Hurrell Way in Rockingham.

An inspection by city officers in December 2014 found a workshop on the property was significantly larger than first approved and was being used for welding and mechanical work. A building permit for the workshop had not been approved.

It also did not comply with building regulations as there was no firewall separating the mechanical workshop.

“The city had no way of knowing if it complied with building standards,” he said.

A letter was sent to Sneyd asking for him to complete the occupancy permit. After no response, another letter was sent, then Sneyd rang saying he would do it but never did.

Sneyd pleaded guilty to the offence on August 19 but continued to occupy the building.

The prosecutor said there was a need for both general and personal deterrence, particularly with building safety codes.

“The city has given him numerous warnings but he has continued to occupy the building, it has been flagrant,” he said.

“There was another breach earlier but at the time the city only inspected this property.”

Magistrate Stephen Wilson asked why this breach was not prosecuted before.

The prosecutor said local governments try to make prosecution a last resort. The city could have, but did not bring another charge,” he said.

Mr Wilson said he hoped the prosecutor was going to ask for a mountain of costs because it could have been dealt with before.

The prosecutor said it would be three hours work at $396 an hour plus other fees, with the total being $1293.60.

Representing himself, Sneyd told Magistrate Wilson he had asked the city what would be required to commence a mechanical business. He produced documents and said they did not ask for an occupancy permit.

Magistrate Wilson said it may have come about through the misinformation of others.

“But it seems you were told at the beginning of the year of your requirements,” he said.

“It makes no sense to me that the shire should have separated these matters.

“It strikes me that it was a bit of a silly move as there has been non-compliance for some time.

“I appreciate you are self-represented today and planning to get out of your business altogether.

“There will be a $4000 fine reduced from $6000 for the early guilty plea.”