Tree protester enters plea on wilful damage charge

A PROMINENT Cairns environmental activist has argued in court that he did not cause damage to a council flower bed because there was only mulch and no plants.

Geoffrey Meredith Holland represented himself in the Cairns Magistrates Court after pleading not guilty to one count each of wilful damage and obstructing police.

 

Geoff Holland fronted a Cairns court on Tuesday after being charged with wilful damage and obstruct police offences. Picture: Peter Carruthers
Geoff Holland fronted a Cairns court on Tuesday after being charged with wilful damage and obstruct police offences. Picture: Peter Carruthers

 

Police have alleged that Mr Holland dug a hole in a flower bed that the Cairns Regional Council had constructed following a controversial tree felling in Palm Cove in June 2020. During police interactions and the arrest, Mr Holland allegedly "made himself deadweight on the ground and held onto temporary fencing".

Prosecution witness Gary John Everson, works manager at Cairns Regional Council, said council considered all options before removing the tree.

Mr Everson said workers spent about six hours and $400 for mulch to restore the site following Mr Holland's alleged offending.

During cross examination, Mr Everson said he was not aware that Mr Holland had made a request to inspect the tree's base during the tree's removal.

Mr Everson was also questioned about whether the mulch dug out could have been restored instead of buying more.

Retired arborist and Palm Cove resident Ian Crossman, who inspected the tree, told the court that it was sound.

"The tree was quite vigorous and could've been safely maintained," Mr Crossman said.

"It was as safe as any other Melaleuca at Palm Cove."

Magistrate Jacqui Payne will deliver her decision at a date yet to be fixed.

Originally published as Palm Cove tree protester enters plea on wilful damage charge


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