The pastoralist who was charged for allegedly stealing an estimated 1,200 head of cattle valued at $1.5 million, and selling them to different stations around the Sturt Plateau district south of Katherine, is allegedly Nenen Cattle Station owner Nicholas John Kostowski, sources have told the NT Independent.
The 71-year-old, who was earlier charged with one count of stealing and two counts of criminal deception, was bailed to appear in Katherine Local Court on June 6, Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lawson said in a media statement last week.
Multiple industry sources have told the NT Independent the man charged was allegedly Mr Kostowski.
According to a Lock the Gate group anti-fracking website, Mr Kostowski has run the Nenan Station for about 21 years and has been in the cattle industry for about 41 years.
Further charges are expected to be laid as a result of an ongoing cattle muster arranged by police. NT Police did not release his name.
In November last year, Mr Kostowski, 70, and his son Robert Kostowski, both plead pleaded guilty in the Katherine Local Court to firearms offences following a raid of their property in a cattle theft investigation in June, the NT News reported.
Det Snr Sgt Lawson said a consensual cattle muster was conducted last June on the station by a nearby station that resulted in recovery of 435 of their stolen cattle.
On June 27, 2021, taskforce detectives executed a search warrant on the property to recover cattle sales evidence and to compare the DNA of the young cattle – or ‘weaners’ – on the station with the original stolen cattle.
Detectives allege they discovered that DNA evidence confirmed that 658 cattle on the station had parental linkages to the original 435 head of cattle that had been stolen. A number of these weaners have since been sold to other stations.
“This operation and subsequent arrest have been the result of an extensive investigation from police over the last ten months,” Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lawson said.
“A mustering schedule has been devised and is currently being executed to recover the remaining cattle. Police members with livestock experience have been deployed from Katherine, Adelaide River and the mounted unit to assist.”
The police are asking anyone with information in regards to livestock theft to call 131 444.