ARMSTRONG - A North Okanagan man convicted of animal cruelty has lost his appeal.
Gary Roberts, born in 1945, was found guilty of wilfully causing unnecessary pain or suffering to his horses and neglecting animals. He was sentenced to house arrest, but after breaching his conditions was ordered to spend the rest of his nine-month sentence in jail. He was also banned from owning animals for 20 years.
Roberts appealed the conviction last year on the basis that the SPCA went beyond the scope of their warrant, which was executed on Dec. 11, 2014. The warrant was issued to relieve the animals’ distress, however Roberts argued the SPCA also used it to collect evidence, including a number of photos. On appeal in December 2017, Justice Nathan Smith agreed the use of that evidence against him was a violation of charter rights, but it wasn’t enough to justify an appeal because the photos only played a minor role in the decision.
“The Charter-infringing state conduct was relatively minor with minimal impact on the protected interest of Mr. Roberts. The officers were lawfully on his property pursuant to a warrant, albeit a warrant that was issued for a different purpose. There was no search that was inconsistent with the purpose of that warrant, such as the search of a residence,” Smith said in his decision Dec. 20, 2017.
The justice also noted that it was the evidence given by the veterinarian that was primarily used by the trial judge.
The second ground of appeal had to do with a compliance order issued by the SPCA, which Roberts said was “immaterial for the purpose of determining his guilt or innocence” and should not have been used.
Justice Smith found no error with the trial judge’s use of that evidence.
“It was evidence properly relied on in the necessary consideration of whether Mr. Roberts had the necessary mens rea of the offence — whether he knew of the animals’ condition, knew that the condition was dangerous for them, and whether he acted wilfully in allowing that condition to continue,” Smith said.
The third ground of appeal related to findings of credibility made by the trial judge, who found that Roberts “presented as an angry man,” resorted to profanities on the stand, largely blamed the SPCA for his difficulties, and contradicted the evidence of the vet.
In his review, Justice Smith found no error was made with regards to the trial judge’s credibility analysis of Roberts.
With all three grounds rejected, Justice Smith dismissed the appeal.
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