An East Chapman man will face a fine of up to $250,000 after he was caught illegally clearing 21 hectares of pristine native vegetation for a “commercial advantage”. Barry Charles Edwards appeared in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court on Monday for sentencing over the clearing which took place between October and November 2018. Prosecutor Andre Maynard said Edwards had admitted he cleared the “very significant area of land” to reduce the population of feral pigs and bring the land into crop and grazing production. He said during a recorded interview Edwards told investigators he “paid a lot of money for the property so decided to clear this 20 hectares… to make some money”. Mr Maynard said the land was “likely in a pristine condition before the clearing” and 53 priority and threatened species would suffer from the clearing. Defence lawyer Philip Brunner elected to not make any statements in defence of Edwards, instead choosing to complain that his client had been “effectively prosecuted” twice by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. “First they filed a conservation notice requiring the land be restored and now through these proceedings,” he said. The sentencing was delayed until January 13 after the prosecution and defence disputed whether Edwards knew he was committing an offence — despite his guilty plea. “I think it’s a fairly significant difference,” Magistrate Chris Miocevich said. It’s an important point for sentencing, either he knew it was illegal and proceeded anyway or he was negligent.” He said due to the “significant penalty” Edwards faced, the prosecution and defence would have to come to an agreement on what facts he should be sentenced on.