The owner of an abandoned boat who managed to evade police for the past six months has already spent time in jail for growing cannabis to sell.
Local democracy reports can reveal that Ross William McIntosh is the owner of the San Rosa – a former fishing trawler that was abandoned off the East Coast on April 9.
After the dramatic sea rescue, McIntosh’s boat drifted through Cyclone Fili before running aground on a remote section of beach near Tikitiki, around two hours north of Gisborne.
Repeated attempts by police and the district council to track McIntosh have failed despite him owing the latter more than $10,000 for the removal of the vessel last month.
McIntosh had already failed to comply with a public notice to remove the boat on May 20, which means he was breaking shipping law and could be fined up to $10,000 or 12 months in jail. imprisonment.
This isn’t the first time he’s had a run-in with the law.
In 2016, McIntosh was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his part in a cannabis grow operation at an undisclosed location on the Buller River.
McIntosh and his counterpart accessed the site by boat and the crop was grown for personal use and for sale.
When police raided his home, drug-addicted dogs found two containers at the back of the property used to store cannabis plants.
McIntosh was also found in illegal possession of firearms.
The prosecution demanded forfeiture of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, jetboat and trailer, as well as $110,000 or property he owned.
The judge told McIntosh he would be “an absolute fool” to repossess drugs or grow cannabis anywhere on the West Coast.
Meanwhile, the police and harbor master Peter Buell had little hope of locating the elusive McIntosh. In October, a police spokesman said there was “currently no further recourse for the police”.
After San Rosa pulled out last month, Buell described the situation as “a very sad end to a beautiful little boat.”
On the day he got into trouble, San Rosa was two days away from his trip from Tauranga to Marlborough.
It had recently been purchased by McIntosh, who was one of three crew on board when the Mayday was dispatched
10 nautical miles off Tokomaru Bay.
The original plan was to wait for a tow, but a four-metre swell proved too strong for the resolve of those on board, and they finally called for an immediate evacuation.
A helicopter was dispatched shortly after and the three were winched to safety, along with a dog.
The 18-metre, 55-ton San Rosa began life as a commercial fishing vessel in 1955 with Auckland-based company Sandford Ltd.
The final bill for his withdrawal last month was $11,732.
Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air