Burnie Magistrates Court hearing into deaths of cattle aboard ship on Bass Strait sees further delays

Cattle cruelty allegations 'invalid', says lawyer

It may still be months before a hearing into the deaths of 59 cattle aboard a ship on the Bass Strait goes ahead.

It is more than four years since 59 cattle died aboard LD Shipping vessel The Statesman during a crossing of the Bass Strait between Stanley and Port Welshpool in Victoria.

Magistrate Tamara Jago was due to deliver a decision on pre-trial arguments in the Burnie Magistrates Court on Monday, but further legal arguments have again delayed the matter until July 31.

These charges have never been valid.

Robert Taylor

The company HW Greenham and Sons and two men, John McGee and Graeme Pretty, are charged with various counts of aggravated cruelty, cruelty to animals and using a method of management of an animal reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and suffering.

However, Robert Taylor, lawyer for HW Greenham and Sons, again argued on Monday that the prosecution has failed to adequately detail how the charges apply to his client under the Animal Welfare Act.

"At no stage through this process has [Mr Nicholson] come into court and said... what it is the defence should understand is the breach [alleged]," Mr Taylor said.

"We suspect the reason it hasn't been done is because it can't be done.

"These charges have never been valid."

Mr Taylor initially made the argument in May and called for the charges to be "struck out" on the basis they are "defective".

In the weeks since, Crown prosecutor Simon Nicholson provided the court with correspondence from years past which he said on Monday detailed why Mr Taylor's "strike out" application should not succeed.

He said the correspondence showed the nature of the charges had been clearly particularised, though Mr Taylor continued to disagree.

Mr Taylor continued to argue that liability of the company and Mr Pretty as alleged by the prosecution has not been made clear.

He further questioned how the charges relating to the method of management could be applied to a company, which has no physical presence and, therefore, could not be on the boat, and to Mr Pretty who was also not on the boat.

Mr Pretty's lawyer further argued this point and said at no point did Mr Pretty have control of the boat as it was sailing.

Ms Jago questioned Mr Nicholson about the act which the Crown says amounts to causing the cattle to be conveyed across the Bass Strait, which Mr Nicholson said was the owner of the animals contracting the company.

"They contracted the Statesman; the Statesman being an unsuitable ship... to continue in unsuitable weather," Ms Jago said to clarify her understanding.

Mr Nicholson said allegations had been clearly stated and though they were complex, he stood by them.

This story Cattle cruelty allegations 'invalid', says lawyer first appeared on The Examiner.