Dear Fred and family,
Firstly I must thankyou Fred for the wonderful times I had in my teens with polocrosse teams that you facilitated and arranged for us. I remember most fondly practise days at Towac Park, carnivals across the length and breadth of the state and your various mentoring and simple wisdoms that you provided us all at that time. I really believe you had a great influence on my early life and my sister and I were very lucky to have become involved with your family at that time.
Curiously through my 20’s / 30’s and early 40’s I saw little of the family except for Bernard and Tim on occasion through our involvement in the fruit industry and neighbours at Melrose. As neighbours Tim and I never really ‘clicked’ and I always felt he had some point or other to win with me. I still enjoyed catching up with David every now and then and the more things change the more they stay the same and I still regard David as a close friend.
Around 5 years I ago I became progressively more involved with Bernard and Fiona and their fruit packing business at Caernarvon. Initially I regarded both Bernard and Fiona as close friends and confidents. I enjoyed visiting them and slowly slowly without realising I got drawn into their web of deception. Curiously David warned me one time 3 or 4 years ago “Garbs be careful these 2 (Fiona and Bernard) are just after your ideas and really don’t give a shit about you’’ – I laughed off David’s words but of course in time I was to understand how he was spot on with his judgement.
Today I am living in the Philippines operating a modest fruit brokerage business near Clark in the Philippines. We trade US, South African, Egyptian, and Moroccan, Australian fresh produce (apples, citrus, stonefruits etc) across around 10 Asian countries principally Indonesia, China and Hong Kong. I have travelled around the world numerous times in this role (the African continent 4 times in the past 12 months for instance). I live in a modest house with a nice young girlfriend and my past life in Australia does at times seem a long time ago but the actions of Bernard and Fiona and perhaps a small degree Tim have cost me well more than a million dollars in unpaid debts, unhonoured contracts, stolen IP and lost assets built upon 30 years of hard work and sacrifice from my side. The core dishonesty of the Bonnyglenn and Caernarvon companies that drove the fraudulent payroll system / Centrelink scams that these companies relied upon to source cheap labour has further unwittingly (perhaps) seen my autistic son Richard given a life sentence of imprisonment in a padded cell house with chipboard windows without a view.
All nonsense you may well say Fred but please read on and see the other side of your golden haired boy Bernard and what along with his crafty alcoholic wife Fiona have done to me ….
- In December 2013 I harvested what I believed to be the cherry crop of a lifetime. In a year when cherries were in short supply with solid pricing and I had a big crop exceeding 300,000 kg. There was no rain and the fruit was clean and averaged 26mm with more 28mm than 24mm. It was Caernarvon‘s biggest attempt at large scale cherry packing and it was their also their first foray into large scale ‘trust account’ type cherry marketing. Fiona pitched her packing charges at the higher end of the scale to account for the possible unknown.
The crop sold for around $1,700,000. Even the pickers were paid around $350,000 which was deducted from the $1,700, 000 gross sales. Andrew ultimately got paid about $150,000 for the crop net of the Caernarvon charges which was probably a bit less than I spent growing that crop. Caernarvon = $1.2m , Pickers = $350 K , Farmer = $150 K
Put simply Caernarvon ended up with over $1,200,000 of my $1,700,000 gross sales in 2013 to cover their packing and marketing inputs. Only later was I able to piece together the gross fraud associated with the packing of my cherry crop in 2013 and I learned that large amounts of fruit had been directed in bulk or plain packaging to a north coast retailer (amongst others) who was operating a chain of roadside fruit outlets and buying truckloads of cherries from the shed. He paid cash and his truck was loaded after midnight. Contained on the Caernarvon pack out summaries the fruit was cleverly recorded as ‘waste’.
It’s also worth noting that the following year in 2014 Caernarvon dramatically reduced their packaging charges however no refund was ever offered to me.
So from the cherry crop of a lifetime I received less than half of what the pickers received? At the time in January 2014 my life was in a state of flux with the failure of my marriage and Caernarvon was offering many future goodies to me which included a lucrative export services agreement and lease of my farm. I was still blissfully unaware of how the Caernarvon pack outs had been manipulated, nor the extent of cash sales or the simple fact that I had been grossly overcharged in the first packing season as the proverbial guinea pig.
Fiona and Bernard were however waving a lucrative export services agreement and viable lease of my farm under my nose so I somehow shrugged off the disastrous 2013 result and moved on believing that Caernarvon and I were still on the same team.
- I spent 15 years of my life putting together an alliance of cherry growers with 25 new orchard plantings and over 120,000 trees in districts such as Mudgee, Wellington, Cudal etc. it was a holistic package with agronomic support, fruit packing and export sales. I travelled extensively to Asia and put together a panel of quality buyers and further developed a unique cherry juice product for our endless nemesis being cracked rain affected cherries. It was all done on the smell a proverbial rag and my fledgling enterprises went from one small cash flow crisis to the next but the fundamental vision of an alliance of cherry growers packing under one brand to the export market was very sound. Alongside this Bernard and Fiona were strong in the pocket, had a large shed and were keen to pack fruit for a living. Bernard and Fiona had however few cherry grower clients, no access to the export market or knowledge on processing cherries into juice. It seemed obvious to bring the two entities together and so we did. The financial reward for my bringing the farms, export markets and processing knowledge to the table for Caernarvon is contained is attached to this letter entitled in a contract entitled ‘services agreement’
As you can see in the contract Fiona signed off on a 5 year plus package valued at $7500 per month, plus bonuses and travel costs. The contract was valued at perhaps $600,000 over the coming years for which I would provide export sales and was a return for all of my goodwill (cherry growers, export buyers and cherry juice formula). In turn this gave Bernard and Fiona the confidence of supply to go out and buy the large GP cherry grader – so at face value it was a win win for everyone.
Of course what I was never to know that Fiona had no real intention of honouring our agreement and simply paid me for the first 4 or 5 months until she had all my growers and buyers lists, knowledge of the export market and cherry juice formula.
One day she casually called me around the back of the cottage at Carnarvon as she poured me a wine and said ‘that things are really tough for Bernard and I financially at the moment and I need a payment holiday for a few months’. More fool me because it seems after 2 years of no payments the payment ‘holiday’ has become an ‘extended vacation’ and Fiona and Bernard have simply stolen all of my years’ work without ever paying for it as agreed. I am out of pocket for over $500,000 on this one alone. They had no ideas or IP of their own they just stole my vision and two decades of work without paying for it. They had no plan other than to steal just mine.
Even when I saw the vast extensions to the Caernarvon homestead and Fiona boasts of $10,000 rugs for the lounge room I really still believed (at first) that they would remember me sometime soon and pay my agreed debt.
- Along with entering the aforementioned ‘services agreement’ with Caernarvon it made sense to also lease Caernarvon my cherry orchard at Nashdale as I was going to set up an office in Asia and concentrate on export sales. My marriage to Angela was at an end and I was keen to move on so a change from farming would work well. A 3 year lease was negotiated at $2500 per month plus a $0.20 per box royalty for each box picked. The orchard was picking between 200 to 300 tonnes of cherries each year so it was quite realistic to expect that I should receive a net income of around $60,000 pa from my orchard (say $5000 per month plus) from the fixed and royalty portion of the harvest combined.
What I of course did not know that Bernard, Fiona and Tim were very keen to buy my orchard having purchased my old shed the year before. My orchard lay in between Melrose and my former shed and with a vast water supply it would be an ideal addition. They were also well aware that I had a high debt load and if the put enough pressure upon me I would collapse financially affording them the opportunity to buy my farm for a song.
From the outset the lease to Caernarvon became a nightmare with rent not being paid on time and endless dishonesty in relation to the supposed yields. The orchard had always picked around 200 tonnes of cherries per year but instead of 600 possible tons over the 3 year lease period I believe Fiona reported some 100 tons in total over the 3 years. In October 2015 we were forced to take Caernarvon to the NCAT tribunal just to get our basic rent paid up to date.
I had mortgage payments on my house and farm of around $8000 per month but went into our agreements with Caernarvon holding a $7500 per month services agreement and a $6000 odd per month orchard lease but with defaults on both my services agreement and orchard lease I was quickly under a huge amount of pressure with my bankers and my bankers dialled up the pressure for me to sell.
Caernarvon perhaps not surprisingly offered the estate agents a sum of about half what my farm was worth and deliberately let the grass grow a metre deep, no pruning or weed spraying and sabotaged every possible sale of my farm. The estate agent advised me that Tim was even known to pull down the various for sale signs along the road at nights.
Bernard, Fiona and to a lesser degree Tim had created the perfect storm for me. They were not honouring our $13,500 per month agreements / leases / contracts and were sabotaging the sale of my orchard so they could secure a bargain for themselves.
- Just two little stories from earlier in the chronology. In January 2014 when I sold Tim and Bernard my packing shed there had been a problem with the electricity meter at the time of settlement and it was agreed between Tim and I to leave the account in my name until it was sorted. Bonnyglenn filled the rooms to the doors with new season apples and the electricity meters ran night and day under