Snake man is sprung

IT'S a story with more twists and turns than a snake's tail and it will leave many people scratching their heads in wonder.

After receiving a complaint from Victorian businessman Raymond Hoser regarding a story on Grafton's own snake and reptile man, WIRES volunteer Paul Jones, The Daily Examiner published a follow-up story addressing Mr Hoser's objections to the use of the words "snake man" as a description of Mr Jones (Snake man strikes, DEX Monday, April 2).

Raymond Hoser is the owner of Snakebusters, a company that provides hands-on snake and reptile shows at schools, shopping centres, events and children's parties.

He has registered the words "snake man" as a trademark and vigorously protects it, asking at least two other snake handlers - including New South Wales volunteer snake catcher George Ellis and Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison - to cease using the name "snake man".

Ironically it seems our follow-up story caught the eye of a number of readers and they have contacted us to point out that Mr Hoser was himself disqualified from demonstrating live reptile shows in August after breaching the conditions of his commercial wildlife demonstrator licence.

Mr Hoser has also been disqualified from holding snake-handling courses and using wildlife in film and television.

The decision was upheld by Magistrate Judge Jenkins in a Melbourne County Court on March 9 this year after an appeal by Mr Hoser.

The 50-year-old self-described herpetologist was fined $4000 with conviction under the Wildlife Act 1975 and ordered to pay costs incurred by Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE) of $8000.

In his findings, Judge Jenkins noted that Mr Hoser, "... through his demeanour and evidence, displayed a contempt and reckless disregard for the licence conditions.

"He has conducted his demonstrations in a manner which seriously compromises the welfare of the snakes he is displaying and the safety and well-being of audience members, including children and, on one occasion, his own daughter."

The incident involving Mr Hoser's daughter referred to by Judge Jenkins occurred at a shopping centre in Melton, Victoria, on July 7 when Mr Hoser deliberately and purposely subjected his 12-year-old daughter to not one but two snake bites from two of the world's most deadly snakes, a taipan and a death adder.

Mr Hoser told the court he did this to prove that his snakes were harmless, as they had been de-venomed.

Mr Hoser pleaded guilty to nine offences committed at demonstrations in Traralgon in November 2008, Wonthaggi in January 2009, Endeavour Hills in January 2009 and Warrnambool in July 2009.

Topics:  paul jones

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