The director of a Bunbury-based crane hire business has been found guilty of damaging a rival company’s crane by cutting a boom retractor cable while undertaking construction work at the Harvey Beef abattoir. Nicola De Marte was found guilty of a charge of criminal damage last Friday, following a six-day trial in the Bunbury Magistrate’s Court. The trial, which concerned an incident that took place at the Harvey Beef abattoir in November 2020, took place over five days in February, followed by a further hearing in April for closing statements and submissions. De Marte was excused from attending the Bunbury Courthouse. During the trial, the court was told De Marte visited the abattoir on November 14, 2020, to help with construction work that was being undertaken at the site by his company Halifax Crane Hire. At the time of offending, Hotweld Fabrication was at the abattoir the day prior erecting a steel structure that would later become an extension to a chiller room. However, when Hotweld Fabrication returned to work the following Monday, the crane had been rendered inoperable due to the boom retractor cable being severed. Although CCTV footage depicted De Marte approaching the crane while on site after helping a colleague get a boom lift through a security access gate, he gave evidence that he approached the crane to urinate despite a block of toilets being located several metres away. In delivering the verdict, Magistrate Benjamin Tyers formed the view that the boom retractor cable had not been severed during an “unsafe lift” that was performed the day before De Marte visited the site, noting evidence that the crane boom would not have been able to be packed away when CCTV footage showed it had indeed been packed away as normal. It was also noted there was no surrounding damage to the crane at the point of severance to suggest the crane sustained any impact damage that could have caused the cable to be severed. Mr Tyers also rejected De Marte’s evidence that he approached the crane to urinate, noting that De Marte could be seen on CCTV footage “approaching the crane with no apparent urgency”. Evidence suggesting that the cable was already in poor condition due to the presence of tape was also rejected as the point of severance was described as a “clean cut” that was 5cm away from where the tape was present. Mr Tyers said there was a “clear, reasonable inference” that De Marte had cut the cable and CCTV footage, while neutral to the case, proved opportunity. De Marte will be sentenced on July 1.