Farmer jailed for 11 months after importing illegal garlic bulbs
An Australian farmer has been jailed after illegally importing garlic bulbs which could have put the nations agricultural sector at risk.
Letetia Anne Ware, 53, used several eBay accounts to buy almost 2,200 bulbs from the US and Canada, instructing her suppliers to mark them down as office supplies.
The types of garlic have the potential to carry Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium which could cause the plant equivalent of foot-and-mouth disease.
It prevents plants from being able to take in water and is rated the biggest threat to Australian plant bio-security.
Justice Gregory Geason said Ware, who was chair of the Australian Garlic Industry Association (AGIA) at the time, held import permits for mushrooms and is aware of the processes surrounding bio-security.
The court heard she made 21 separate garlic imports over an 18-month period and asked suppliers to break up the items to under 150 grams so they wouldnt be detected.
Her conduct was described by the judge as protracted, and only ending when she was caught out.
Last week she pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including aggravated illegal importation of plant material, and resigned from her role at the AGIA.
Justice Geason told Ware at Hobart supreme court, Tansmania: [Your] conduct created risk to all agricultural activity.
He added that her sentence needed to serve a strong message that would deter others from engaging in similar behaviour.