by Peter Hardwick
A CHINCHILLA man who admitted stealing two cattle which he said he found at the side of the road but kept and branded as his own had been shamed from the district, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard.
Brendan Philip Olm's family had farmed the district since 1896 but since the cattle theft story broke he and his family had been shamed and hounded to the point they had sold their property, defence barrister Frank Lippett told the court.
The two cattle in question had been among nine cows and calves which had gone missing from another property in the district almost two years before, police prosecutor Sergeant Natalie Bugden told the court.
Acting on information provided, police attended Olm's property in March this year where two shorthorn cattle bearing the complainant's brand had been found.
Three calves had been born from the cows, two of which had been sold by Olm while the other had been seized by police to be returned to the complainant, the court heard.
Mr Lippett said his client instructed he had been driving home to his property after work in Chinchilla one January afternoon in 2015 when he saw the cattle at the side of the road.
Because of the danger of wandering stock, he had gone back and collected the cattle which he put into his cattle yard nearby.
His client had contacted property owners within about a 3km radius but when no-one claimed ownership he had left the cattle on his property.
It was only in March this year when police arrived that he discovered the cattle owner was some 6km away, Mr Lippett said.
Since news broke of the incident, his client had been harassed by others, though not the complainant, to the point one man had been sentenced to a suspended jail term after admitting ramming his client's car on the road before chasing him into scrub while armed with a knife, he said.
His client's wife had been so anxious due to the harassment she had sought counselling and the couple had decided to sell up and move on, he said.
The ensuing publicity had also added to the shame and embarrassment of his client and family, Mr Lippett submitted.
Olm, 41, had no previous criminal history at all, entered timely pleas of guilty to all charges and was genuinely remorseful for his actions, he said.
Magistrate Kay Ryan took into account Olm's otherwise good character and the backlash he had suffered since the matter became public and ordered the convictions not be recorded.
Olm was fined $3250 and ordered to pay $5500 restitution to the complainant.