Gingin abattoir innocent in major WA cattle rustling investigation

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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A WA abattoir has been cleared of criminal involvement in WA’s biggest ever cattle duffing bust.
Camera IconA WA abattoir has been cleared of criminal involvement in WA’s biggest ever cattle duffing bust. Credit: WA Police/Supplied

A WA abattoir has been cleared of criminal involvement in WA’s biggest ever cattle duffing bust with police saying the meat processor unwittingly purchased some of the allegedly stolen cattle.

When WA Police revealed in February it had launched Operation Topography in response to the cattle theft, it alleged the established criminal network comprised individuals and companies linked to abattoirs, aerial and ground musterers, livestock trucking companies, truck drivers, stock agents, and feedlots.

But The Sunday Times can reveal abattoirs have been removed from the list of businesses under investigation by the Rural Crime Squad.

Police confirmed this week that while a meat processing facility at Gingin had handled some of the allegedly stolen cattle, it was not involved in the alleged theft.

“Some of the allegedly stolen cattle ended up at the abattoir, but it was an unwitting, innocent victim and they are not part of the criminal network in question,” Det. Sen. Sgt Mark Howes said.

“The abattoir cooperated and assisted with enquiries.”

Police declined to give names but the only beef abattoir at Gingin is Borrello Beef, operated by Danny, Robert, James and Michael Borrello. Attempts were made to contact management.

Five people have so far been charged with a combined 29 charges in connection with the alleged theft of 803 cattle — enough to fill five triple road trains — worth an estimated $800,000.

Pastoralist Richard Arends from Edmund Station in the Upper Gascoyne region, who has been charged in relation to alleged theft and sale of 803 cattle worth about $800,000.
Camera IconPastoralist Richard Arends from Edmund Station in the Upper Gascoyne region, who has been charged in relation to alleged theft and sale of 803 cattle worth about $800,000. Credit: James Liver/ABC Rural

Those charged include Richard Arends and his partner Rachael Third of Edmund Station in the Upper Gascoyne, stock agent Daniel Wood, stock buyer and station operator Joshua Abbott, and agricultural manager Steven McDowall.

All have appeared in court but have not yet entered pleas and have been released on bail ahead of their next court dates

Police say they expect to lay more charges in coming weeks and that the investigation will continue until the criminal network is disbanded.

The alleged cattle thefts centre on the Pilbara, Upper Gascoyne and Wheatbelt, according to police.

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