A former Central Queensland “feral pig hunter” has successfully defended himself against police allegations he had no legal excuse to possess two large hunting knives in public.
Acting Magistrate John Aberdeen found Ryan John Pitt not guilty of physically possessing two knives in a public place without reasonable excuse in South Mackay, 950km north of Brisbane, on 30 August 2020.
A one-day summary trial in the Mackay Magistrates Court in February this year was told that police found two sheathed “pigging knives” in the centre console of Pitt’s LandCruiser utility parked on a section of nature strip between Paradise and Paget Streets about 5.48am.
The court was told police were conducting patrols of the area and became “suspicious” and believed Pitt and two associates in his company “may have had possession of dangerous drugs”.
Mr Aberdeen, in his 19-page decision on 8 July, noted that police body camera footage of three officers provided to the court as evidence showed Senior Constable Jared Knox remove what “appeared to be a knife” from Pitt’s vehicle.
“It seems Mr Pitt may have seen Constable Knox holding the knives and … said: ‘They’re my pigging knives’,” Mr Aberdeen said. “After further short conversation, Constable Knox said: ‘These knives shouldn’t be in the centre console of your car.’
“(Pitt replied) ‘they’re my pigging knives. They live there. They’ve lived there for 20-years’.”
Pitt, who represented himself, testified that between 1995 and 2012 he had been authorised by Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries to “catch and kill feral pigs” in a role known euphemistically as a “field harvester”.
Mr Aberdeen said: “Over this this time (Pitt’s evidence was that) he was instrumental in the obtaining for export of perhaps a thousand tonnes of feral pig meat. For at least part of that period, he was paid $1 per kilogram for the butchered meat.
“At the time of the (alleged) offence, ‘field harvesting’ was no longer his main source of income. Yet it is reasonably clear that he was still ‘pigging’ … (and) his evidence was in general accordance with his statements to police.”
During cross-examination by prosecutors and asked if he always kept the knives in the “same spot” in his vehicle, Pitt explained: “The (knives) are kept – they’re jammed underneath – they’re out of sight, so, you know, so no one’s even knocked them off. You know what I mean?”
When pressed on the issue of carrying knives in public, Pitt said: “They’re not in a public place, they’re concealed in my truck. I go pigging all the time. They live there.”
After almost five months of deliberations, Mr Aberdeen found Pitt not guilty of the charge.
“I find that Mr Pitt is not guilty of this offence,” he said. “I dismiss the charge. I order that the property (the knives) the subject of the charge be returned to Mr Pitt.”
Read the decision.