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Thursday, Jun 30, 2005
Defendant/Suspect: William Charles Collins
A farmer who pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge on Sept 6 has had more serious charges dismissed.
William Charles Collins, 55, of Pine Grove, appeared before magistrate Don Jones in the Smithton Magistrates Court in Tasmania.
He faced four animal cruelty charges relating to allegations he threw live calves into a pit, where they drowned, in July 2005.
Former farmhand Nick Reeve last year told the court he and Mr Collins and another farmhand loaded eight to 10 dead and live calves into a trailer. He said they took them to what was known as the "dead pit" where dead livestock were dumped.
Mr Reeve said he had helped throw the dead calves into the pit, which was part-filled with water, before Mr Collins threw four or five live calves in as well.
One of the live calves climbed onto the carcass of a dead cow while another scrambled up the bank, Mr Reeve said.
A few weeks later, after he had left the farm, he told a friend about the incident and his friend reported it to the Department of Primary Industries.
DPIWE agricultural officer Colin Jessup detailed a visit to the farm he made with RSPCA officer Frank Bingham on July 27 last year.
Defence counsel Rodney Glover asked whether autopsies had been performed on the calves.
But Mr Jessup said the number of calves and the state of decomposition had been a concern.
"Would it be fair to say if autopsies had been carried out it could have been proven if the calves had drowned?" Mr Glover asked.
"Yes, it would," Mr Jessup said.
Mr Jones dismissed the charges, saying there was not proof beyond reasonable doubt that the calves had been drowned, and it was a case of Mr Reeve's word against that of Mr Collins.
However, Mr Collins did plead guilty to another charge of animal cruelty, laid after the visit to the farm on July 27.
On that day Mr Jessup and Mr Bingham found a live calf in a trailer covered by other dead calves.
Mr Glover said Mr Collins believed the calf to be dead, and had placed it in the trailer to be taken to the dead pit later.
"He was shocked and mortified when it was discovered that the calf was still alive," Mr Glover said.
Mr Jones said he had no doubt the animal suffered, and convicted and fined Mr Collins $2000.
- News.Com.Au - Sept 5, 2006
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