Published on stuff.co.nz 30/08/2019
A Geraldine farmer has been ordered to pay the Ministry for Primary Industries $12,000 in court costs after being convicted of ill treatment of a bull.
David James Keith Stanton, 58, was convicted and discharged on a liability charge of ill treatment of an animal when he appeared before Judge Joanna Maze in the Timaru District Court on Thursday.
Maze also ordered him to contribute $12,000 to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) court costs.
After a four-day judge-alone trial, which began in November 2018 and concluded in June, during which Stanton defended a charge of reckless ill treatment of an animal, Judge Maze ruled MPI had proven only elements of the charge and amended it to the lesser liability charge of ill treatment of an animal.
The judge ruled Stanton neglected a Belgian blue bull by failing to seek vet treatment for its fused knee joint between February 1 and December 5, 2016, but did not do so “recklessly or callously” because he was unaware the animal was in chronic pain.
Stanton applied for a discharge without conviction. MPI prosecutor Lisa Brown argued because of the “duration of the suffering”, the charge was too serious for such an outcome.
“The evidence [at the trial] did establish the animal had an infection leading to injury in one leg, requiring it to favour the other hind leg which also became damaged. I have to conclude the state of affairs was ongoing throughout several months,” the judge said.
“The entry of a first conviction for anyone is a significant matter and brings with it anxiety, distress, humiliation.”
Judge Maze received testimonials from friends of Stanton emphasising his “good character”.
“There are a number of people who confirm you are someone who has worked with and cared for animals. There are no animal welfare problems raised in the past,” the judge said.
“He is seen as a man who has concern for animals in his care. That, however, does not mean this offence has not occurred.”
Brown argued that Stanton pay $21,000 to MPI to cover the costs of its veterinarian witnesses to attend court. The amount did not reflect travel or accommodation costs to acknowledge the defendant’s “very, very limited” financial position.
Judge Maze ordered Stanton to pay “slightly over half” what MPI was asking.
“While it is his right to defend the charge, it is right and proper that he must pay some contribution to the costs,” the judge said.
“Animal welfare matters are of concern. They often speak of risk in other areas and the costs of prosecution are far more important on a grander scale than just the defendant specified.”