Farmer 'wrongly charged' over dead cattle
Thu, 12 Jul 2012 8:29p.m.
The lawyer for a North Otago farmer, on trial over the death of over 150 cattle, says the wrong party has been charged.
Anthony James Lauren, 51, has pleaded not guilty in Timaru District Court to six charges of ill-treating cows and calves on Mt Belle Farm at Kurow, North Otago in 2009.
Lauren was leasing the property where neighbours found dead and dying animals on a remote part of the farm in the middle of winter in 2009.
MAF and a vet were called and 143 dead cows and calves were discovered. Another 13 cows and calves had to be destroyed and a further 185 calves were also found to be starving.
In final submissions today, defence counsel David Campbell said the wrong party had been charged over the cattle deaths.
The defendant's company had employed a contractor to look after the animals and it was the company, if not the contractor, rather than the defendant who perhaps should have been charged.
Mr Campbell challenged the admissibility of MAF evidence, saying its inspector's appointment was invalid with no search warrants obtained.
Crown prosecutor Tim Gresson said, even when the dead and dying cattle had been discovered and Lauren had gone to the property, he had failed to take all possible steps to mitigate the suffering of the surviving animals.
Even though the appointment of MAF inspector Kevin Byrnes was technically invalid at the time, Lauren had not objected to the presence of the inspector and the vet who attended the distressed animals.
Mr Gresson said the inspector had acted in good faith.
MAF, Mr Byrnes and the vet were faced with an emergency and had to make immediate decisions.
Judge Joanna Maze adjourned the case to Oamaru District Court to deliver verdicts on July 19.
She will also decide if MAF evidence to the trial was admissible.
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