Everything Geraldton published a media release from the Department of Fisheries earlier in the week. It stated that Mr Capurso was charged with taking crays from other people's pots. His lawyer contacted us and said that Mr Capurso did not take any crays from anyone else's pots. He technically "interfered" with other pots, but this was only to check to see if they were his, and he had some go missing earlier.
According to Mr Capurso's lawyer, it's true he had an extra two crays, he checked his wife's pots while she was not on board, and he technically pulled up some other pots, which according to Mr Capurso was only to see if they were his.
Everything Geraldton incorrectly published the assertion that Mr Capurso had "raided" other people's pots. This was not stated in the press release from Dept of Fisheries, only that the pots had been interfered with.
Below is a release from Mr Capurso's lawyer published in full.
Mr Robert Bogumil and the fisheries Department have severely exaggerated the conduct of Mr Frank Capurso in their media release. They are guilty of highly unfair conduct towards him in order to facilitate the release of their propaganda warnings to the community.
Mr Capurso WAS NOT charged with “raiding other people’s Cray pots” as reported in “Everything Geraldton” on 21 December 2014.
He was charged with INTERFERING with pots. What does not appear in the media release from fisheries and Mr Bogumil was that 2 of the pots belonged to Mr Capurso’s wife and the fact that she was not on board at the time that he pulled those pots resulted in “technical” breach of the regulations. What was also not reported was that Mr Capurso only pulled another 4 pots by pulling two of them half way up and then letting them go and pulling two on board and then throwing them back. He did so to check if they were pots he had lost about 4 weeks before. He reasonably believed that they might be the pots which were missing because the ropes were covered in algae and slime. But by pulling them to check he was technically guilty of interfering with them.
The magistrate accepted that Mr Capurso’s conduct was at the very bottom of the scale for this type of thing and only fined him $500. The maximum he could have fined him for the charge alleged on 25 February 2014 was $25,000. This shows that the court did not treat the charges as being serious. His Honour said that it appeared that Mr Capurso’s “curiosity killed the cat”.
Fisheries and Mr Bogumil also did not say in their “press release” that they asked the magistrate to order forfeiture to the state of Mr Capurso’s boat, outboard motor, trailer and other gear and the magistrate refused to do so in the circumstances of this case and ordered that the equipment be returned to him including a shirt which was on board. The magistrate told the fisheries in court he was “not going to take the shirt off his back either”.
They did not say also that it took from 25 February 2014 to 27 October 2014 to charge him and only because his lawyer wrote to them about the boat and trailer and gear they confiscated at the time.
While everyone agrees that people should respect each other on the water in recreational fishing, this case of Mr Capurso, in the way it was reported, was entirely unsuitable to be used as a vehicle by the fisheries to warn the public about serious offending and complying with the regulations.
The authors of the release showed reckless disregard for and were prepared to sacrifice (for their own ends) the reputation of a 74 year old hard working member of the community and a highly respected family man (at Christmas time) who only retired from bricklaying when he reached 73 years old.
Mr Capurso has the upmost respect for the law and the community and his fellow recreational fishers said his lawyer Mr George Giudice. Mr Giudice said that the false reporting has caused his client and his client’s family much hurt and trouble at Christmas. People deserve to know the truth of the matter and Mr Giudice is hopeful that the publication of the accurate story will put the record straight and stop the abusive phone calls to his client’s home which have resulted from the unfair and deplorable publicity arising from the media releases not only to this forum but to Geraldton ABC radio which kindly published a retraction.