VERNON - An Armstrong man convicted of causing pain and suffering to his horses is forbidden from owning any animals for the next two decades.
Gary Roberts, 72, was found guilty of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and failing to provide the necessities of life in December 2016.
Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi sentenced the former school teacher today, March 14, to a nine month sentence, served in the community instead of jail. Roberts will be on house arrest for the first four months of his sentence. Roberts is also banned from owning animals for a period of 20 years.
The SPCA seized 16 horses from Roberts’ property in December 2014, after receiving complaints from the public and initiating an investigation. At the time, Roberts had roughly 130 horses on his property. During sentence submissions this afternoon, Crown counsel Alexandra Janse said the SPCA seized the horses in the most critical condition although all of the horses were neglected and suffering.
Janse said Roberts continues to show no remorse for the offence and breached his bail conditions by keeping horses on his property after charges were laid.
Information supplied by the SPCA indicates Roberts currently has 20 to 40 horses on his property, Janse said. Outside of court, Roberts denied that the horses were under his care and said another individual was feeding them.
Defence lawyer Julian van der Walle argued Roberts didn’t mean to make the animals suffer — things simply got out of hand.
“This is not a case of someone sadistically tying up a dog… In my position, this is a situation in which an elderly man, perhaps stubborn, became incapable of taking care of such a large herd,” van der Walle said.
He said numerous character letters from local residents attest to Roberts’ efforts caring for the large herd.
“He was, at all times, trying,” van der Walle said.
Roberts wanted permission to keep a few horses, but Judge Takahashi would not allow it.
Roberts spoke with reporters following the sentence hearing and said he was “set up” from the start. He says his rights were violated because the case took two years to go to trial and plans to appeal an earlier court ruling on a charter argument.
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