RSPCA court case involving Redbourn farm adjourned until later this year following death of defendant
- Credit: Archant
An animal cruelty trial has been adjourned until later this year following the death of a defendant last week.
Michael Morley, Patrick Smith, Edward Smith, Julie Smith and Steven Parkin, all of White House Farm in Redbourn, appeared in St Albans Magistrates’ Court on July 18 for a ten day trial for a string of animal cruelty and neglect charges.
But the trial was halted on Tuesday (26) after Mr Parkin took his own life on Monday (25) evening.
By this stage the prosecution submitted its evidence and the defence submitted that there was no case to answer for any of the defendants.
After a short adjournment Judge Carolyn Mellanby announced her decision on the defences’ submission on Friday (29), and said she would dismiss some, but not all of the charges.
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She also concluded that the trial would be adjourned until November this year, despite the defences’ request for the trial to be handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Some of the charges dismissed include a charge against Patrick Smith, Edward Smith, and Julie Smith relating to the conditions some show horses were kept in.
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Judge Mellanby read from a written statement: “From the overall evidence together with the visual video evidence of the state of those barns I am not satisfied that this case has been made out to a sufficient standard for me to find there is a case to answer.”
Morley now faces 10 charges, while Edward and Julie Smith both face 22 charges, and Patrick Smith faces 10 charges.
The defence criticised the RSPCA, mentioning that a suicide note left by Mr Parkin cited the pressures of the RSPCA trial.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “The RSPCA was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Stephen Parkin.”
They continued: “After careful examination of the evidence, a decision was made to initiate a prosecution case against five defendants because the level of neglect we found was so serious.
“There are clearly very tragic circumstances surrounding this matter. However, the judge has ruled that in light of the evidence there is still a case to answer in respect of the four remaining defendants and said that it is right in these circumstances for the case to proceed.”