THE developers who illegally demolished a 19th century Melbourne pub four years ago have been sent to prison for one month and slapped with $400,000 in fines and costs, after failing to comply with an order from the Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal.
Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri, directors of development company 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, demolished the 1857-built Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton with no permit or warning over a weekend in October of 2016 – starting on the Saturday, ignoring a City of Melbourne stop-work order, and returning the next day to complete the demolition.
They left the corner site littered with rubble and debris that included asbestos, and failed to comply with the VCAT order from May of 2019 that required them to clear the Carlton site.
Shaqiri and Kutlesovski were yesterday sentenced president of the tribunal, Justice Michelle Quigley, and ordered to pay $250,000 in legal costs to the Victorian government and Melbourne Council, and fined $150,000.
Quigley found the company and its two directors had wilfully and deliberately failed to comply with the terms of the VCAT that requiring them to clear the site and also make it available for public recreation.
Just over one year ago they had fines for knocking down the pub of almost $2 million reduced to $1.1 million by the County Court, which ruled the initial fines to be excessive and ignoring of important sentencing factors.
Melbourne City Council and the Victorian government pursued the contempt of court convictions with the planning tribunal.
“We took on these proceedings in the public interest because it’s completely unacceptable to ignore a court ruling,” Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp said. “Today’s decision vindicates the court’s authority and sends a clear message that we won’t tolerate developers disobeying a court order.”
Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne said the developers “deserve this outcome”.
“They have trashed Victoria’s heritage, refused to build a park, and shirked their legal obligations at every step.”