Tragic twist causes halt to animal cruelty case involving Redbourn farm

PUBLISHED: 09:05 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:23 28 July 2016

Police present at White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.

Police present at White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.

Archant

An ongoing animal cruelty and neglect case has been halted following the sudden death of one of the defendants.

Police cars outside White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.Police cars outside White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.

Steven Parkin, 56, of White House Farm in Redbourn, one of five defendants facing numerous charges at St Albans Magistrates’ Court, was found dead on Tuesday morning.

He was thought to have taken his own life which was confirmed when the district judge hearing the case announced in court that she had been told Mr Parkin had committed suicide.

She said: “I’m very sorry to hear this and it puts the case into a very difficult position.”

Henry Spooner, representing Mr Parkin, requested that the charges be dropped in light of the circumstances to enable the defendant’s good character to remain intact.

Police cars outside White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.Police cars outside White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.

Proceedings will resume tomorrow (Friday) but are likely to be adjourned again to respect the other defendants’ grieving process.

Mr Parkin, together with Michael Morley, Edward Smith, Patrick Smith, and Julie Smith, all of White House Farm, went on trial in relation to animal cruelty and neglect offences at St Albans Magistrates’ Court last week. The trial had continued this Monday (25) with cross-examination of RSPCA Inspector Lauren Bailey.

The defendants are charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and not ensuring the welfare of a number of animals after the RSPCA and police raided their farm on October 14, 2014. The RSPCA has brought the prosecution.

Eight horses and a goat had to be euthanised at the farm while 50 dogs, three horses, and a cat were rescued by the charity.

An ambulance leaves White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.An ambulance leaves White House Farm on Hemel Hempstead Road.

All five had pleaded not guilty to all the charges, although Michael Morley had changed his not guilty plea to guilty on one of the charges relating to the welfare of a number of dogs.

A Herts Police spokeswoman said this week: “Police and ambulance were called to White House Farm, Hemel Hempstead Road, Redbourn at 8.30am on Tuesday morning following reports of concerns for the welfare of a man on the premises.

“Sadly, the man has died; police are not treating the death as suspicious and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.”

She added that the matter had been referred to the coroner.

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