$48,000 fine imposed in near fatal poisoning case


The NSW Land and Environment Court has convicted and fined a Central Coast man $48,000 after another man almost died after consuming a pesticide stored incorrectly.

Mr Warwick Ronald McInnes was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) after a 22-year-old autistic man accidentally drank the highly toxic weedkiller Paraquat which Mr McInnes had illegally stored in a Coca-Cola bottle and left in a disabled toilet at a sports field at Mangrove Mountain, in August 2017.

The 22 year old man spent 18 days in hospital critically ill.

Her Honour Justice Duggan said the manner of storage of the poison in a drink bottle was a “gravely serious breach” of the Pesticides Act undertaken “without any real regard for the obligations” of safe poison storage, and that the injury to the victim was significant.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Adam Gilligan said the case highlighted the vital importance of vigilance and care, when dealing with dangerous chemicals.

“A young man very nearly died. Rules for the safe storage and use of pesticides and other poisons are in place to protect the community and the environment. Any disregard for the regulations can have very serious consequences, as we saw in this terrible case.

“It is absolutely vital that dangerous chemicals are stored safely and securely, well out of harm’s way.”

Mr McInnes has been fined $48,000 (out of a maximum available penalty of $60,000) and ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs and the Victim’s Support Levy.

Prosecutions are one of a number of tools the EPA uses to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions.

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