Corkman developers blasted in court, fined more than $500,000

The developers who unlawfully knocked down a 159-year-old Carlton pub two years ago have been fined more than half a million dollars for dumping asbestos from the site next to residential areas.

Magistrate Richard Pithouse admonished the developers as he imposed fines of $120,000 each on Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski in the Sunshine Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

And he fined their company, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, a further $300,000.

The Corkman Irish pub in Carlton, built in 1857, was demolished.

Photo: Supplied

In October 2016, the pair knocked down the Corkman Irish Pub, built in 1857 on the corner of Leicester and Pelham streets, without planning or building permission.

As well as leaving exposed asbestos amid the rubble on the Carlton site, they also took bricks, mortar and other building waste – with asbestos in it – to another development site they owned in Cairnlea.

There, they dumped the waste just 350 metres from a primary school and a childcare centre – and close to a group of townhouses their company had recently finished developing.

The pub in Carlton the day after it was demolished.

Photo: The Age

Moving the waste from Carlton to Cairnlea occurred after the developers were warned by the Environment Protection Authority, who brought Wednesday's charges against the men, to secure the Carlton site.

The charges against the men related both to the dumping of waste at the Cairnlea site, and the failure to properly secure the Carlton rubble.

Tarpaulins placed over the rubble and waste were torn, had holes in them and were blowing in the wind. When warned over the tarpaulins on the Carlton site, Shaqiri's response was to "tape them back together", an EPA prosecution summary said.

The magistrate said he would have jailed the men instead of fining them if that option had been open to him.

“In my view you put the residents of those areas at substantial risk,” Mr Pithouse said.

“To be perfectly frank if jail were available, I would be imprisoning the accused in relation to these matters. However I am constrained by the [Environment Protection] Act and I am limited to imposing financial penalties,” the magistrate said.

Developer Raman Shaqiri leaves the magistrates court.

Photo: Joe Armao

“It is my view that both [directors] of this company have acted with complete disregard to the law for their own financial betterment, and that they have a cavalier disregard [for] the law,” Mr Pithouse said.

And he said that under the Environment Protection Act, he was unable to hand out financial penalties serious enough.

“[The low fines] really just underline the lack of teeth available to the court in this jurisdiction in dealing with such a serious breach of the legislation where people are put at risk for financial gain,” he said.

Corkman developer Stefce Kutlesovski.

Photo: Clay Lucas

At one point, Mr Pithouse warned one of the developers, Kutlesovski, to stop smirking and rubbing his chin.

“I wouldn’t be sitting rubbing your chin so smugly as you are today, because you don’t know how close you came to going to jail because of your actions,” he told Kutlesovski.

He said the two developers deserved to be publicly shamed for their actions.

“I hope everyone knows your name, and your name," Mr Pithouse said, indicating Shaqiri as well, "and how you disregarded the law. And if you think you are above the law, you are not.”

At one point, the magistrate said to Kutlesovski: " Don’t try and outstare me."

In response, Kutlesovski said: “I’m not staring, sir.”

The magistrate in reply, directed Kutlesovski to "get the smug look off your face".

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