Owner admits marquee ‘illegal’ but not intentional

A THULIMBAH man who was illegally accommodating more than 70 overseas backpackers has said that any wrongdoing was completely unintentional.

Jan Idec was prosecuted by the Southern Downs Regional Council on Thursday.

The 67-year-old accepted responsibility for his backyard marquee, which was deemed unsafe by the Planning and Environmental Court.

"From what I understand now, I did something that was illegal and didn't comply," he said. "I have to admit to that, it's my responsibility… I guess we should have put smoke alarms in."

But there's more to the story according to Mr Idec.

Beside where the marquee was set up is a furnished guesthouse - that is completely unoccupied.

Mr Idec had intended for the guesthouse to be fully operational more than a year ago, but further inspections found aspects of the new building to be non-compliant with the Building Code.

A frustrated Mr Idec said the building was given council approval, and was constructed according to the initial plans.

In debt, Mr Idec looked for a new way to make money.

"For all intents and purposes we've completed the building," he said. "No one was sleeping in it - that's why we got the tent."

The penalty for Mr Idec is still to be decided by the Planning and Environmental Court.



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