A Wellsford contractor who stole 21 pregnant cows from farms neighbouring his Whangaripo property has been sentenced to home detention.
A lawyer for Nigel Collins, 40, says he is appealing his conviction for the theft of 19 Friesian cows and two beef cows from his neighbours Arthur Mayall and Heather Jones in April 2010.
In the Auckland District Court this morning, Collins was sentenced to nine months home detention, ordered to complete 200 hours community work and pay reparations of $41,738.74 to Ms Jones and Mr Mayall. He must also pay reparations of $7,000 to another man from whom he stole four cows.
DNA testing was required to identify the stolen cattle, which linked them to their calves and the bull that inseminated them, to the neighbouring farm.
Collins denied cattle rustling during the court case last year, saying if the cows were not his then it was because they wandered onto his property.
However, the prosecution had said the fact there were 19 cows in a secluded field, recognisable by their natural markings, indicated they were those belonging to the neighbouring property. There was also a cut fence surrounding the paddock which indicated human involvement.
Local residents and farmers reinforced the impact the thefts have had on their community, saying it has caused a divide in a place where trust is paramount.
Ms Jones and Mr Mayall have since moved from the farm to a property further north.