The rear of the property where council alleges up to 19 occupants were staying – photo by Kate O’Neill
BYRON’S alleged schoolies slum landlord Shai Major was supposed to appear at Byron Local Court yesterday.
Instead he told the court he was working in Brisbane only to be found a short time later at the Jonson Street property that was shut down by council staff last Friday.
Mr Major, who is charged with “development without development consent” for renting the property and then allegedly charging eight schoolies and 10 backpackers up to $800 a week to sleep on mattresses on the garage floor, pleaded not guilty in a letter to the court and informed the magistrate he couldn’t appear as he had to work in Brisbane.
This was accepted by the court, but when council staff went to the Jonson Street property to serve another inspection notice they found Mr Major at the property and promptly reported it to the court, Byron’s council governance officer Ralph James said.
“We wanted to put it on the record that we were aware Mr Major was not in Brisbane but was in fact in Byron Bay at 11am,” Mr James said.
Council staff have also taken the unusual step of laying the same development without development consent charge against the owner of the property on Wednesday, alleging that he was aware the property was being used as an unlawful holiday let.
“Council’s view is that the owner was aware of the allegation that the property was being used as an unlawful backpackers and that the owner of the property did nothing about it,” Mr James said.
The matter has been adjourned until January 19 when both Mr Major and the owner, whose name has not been released, have been directed by the court to attend.
After council and police raided the property on Friday they allegedly found mattresses on the floor with minimal hygiene conditions.
The matter was one of eight brought by Byron Shire Council in the court yesterday, a sign it is cracking down on breaches of planning, parking and other regulations.
source: Northern Star
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