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CONVICTED: Was justice served?
more information on voting
When you vote, you are voting on whether or not the punishment fit the crime, NOT on the severity of the case itself. If you feel the sentence was very weak, you would vote 1 star. If you feel the sentence was very strong, you would vote 5 stars.
Please vote honestly and realistically. These ratings will be used a a tool for many future programs, including a "Peoples Choice" of best and worst sentencing, DA and judge "report cards", and more. Try to resist the temptation to vote 1 star on every case, even if you feel that 100 years in prison isnt enough.
Sunday, Jun 30, 2002
Defendant/Suspect: Alan William Summers
A Far North farmer's sentence for ill-treating his dairy herd has been labelled farcical by a Northland Federated Farmers leader. Alan William Summers, 63, was sentenced to 350 hours' community service, banned from owning cattle for two years and ordered to pay $4000 in costs last week after he admitted two charges of ill-treating an animal and a representative charge of ill-treating an animal.
Summers was charged after a July 2002 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry investigation at his 161ha farm at Motutangi, 29km northwest of Kaitaia.
Officials took 386 cattle to a neighbouring farm, where 68 were shot immediately as they were close to starvation. The rest were seized.
However, the sentence has been labelled a farce and totally inadequate by Northland Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Bill Guest.
Mr Guest said the sentence was out of line with others handed out for animal mistreatment.
It would not deter bad farmers.
Summers was one of only two farmers in Northland banned from owning stock. Lester Donald Reuben Johnstone, of Maungatapere, was fined $34,000 and banned from owning stock for five years in 2003.
"I'm amazed that, when compared with Johnstone, whose case was not as bad as this one, Summers appears to have got off very lightly," Mr Guest said. "A total of 68 cows had to be shot because of the way he [Summers] treated them, but what made this case unique is that Summers has not accepted responsibility for the condition of those cows and even now says if he had been left alone they would have been fine.
"Well, that's not the case, because 68 were so bad when MAF did come in that they had to be shot," Mr Guest said.
In court last Friday, Judge Graham Hubble said Summers appeared arrogant and high-handed and still did not fully accept responsibility for what had happened.
Summers is still allowed to own other animals and said outside the court that he would transfer ownership of his cattle to his wife, install his son as farm manager and work himself as a glorified farmhand.
He had been unrepentant about the case, saying that, if MAF had left him alone, things would have turned out fine and only "one or two" of the cattle would have died.
Summers has two previous convictions for ill-treating animals. He said he only pleaded guilty after MAF offered a deal to drop charges of wilfully ill- treating the animals