News

Bride bandit raid

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Derek Smith
UNDER INVESTIGATION: Derek Smith

A PHOTOGRAPHER accused of destroying peoples' weddings has been raided by officials looking for evidence of dodgy dealings.

The Office of Fair Trading executed a search warrant at an Eli Waters address yesterday morning, seizing photographic equipment, while police also seized a weapon from the address.

Earlier this week, the Chronicle revealed Derek Smith was living in Hervey Bay after allegedly running out on contracts on the Gold Coast, owing thousands to people who paid for wedding photos that were never delivered.

As Mr Smith remained hidden behind drawn curtains yesterday, an OFT officer carried numerous items out of the house, before a police patrol attended the scene.

A Hervey Bay police spokesman said they were called after the OFT found the weapon in the house.

The spokesman said the weapon was seized for ballistic and scientific testing in Brisbane to determine its authenticity, while inquiries into licensing were also ongoing.

Meanwhile, Fair Trading operations executive director Brian Bauer said the search was "part of a wider investigation following complaints received from consumers that they had not received products and services they had paid for from the trader".

"OFT officers seized a number of items during the search, including photographic equipment and memory cards, computers, computer hard drives and storage devices," he said.

The OFT investigations into Mr Smith were ongoing.

Under Australian consumer law, it is illegal for a trader to accept payment for goods or services if they know or should have known they would not be able to supply those goods or services.

Mr Smith could face a fine of up to $220,000 if he is found to have breached this law.

The police spokesman said police were not involved in the OFT investigation into the wedding photo complaints against Mr Smith, but were only there to seize the weapon, and no charges had been laid at this time.

A Facebook page has been set up called "What happened to Derek Smith?" where people have reported their dealings with the photographer.

Topics:  office of fair trading photographer



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