Legal team of circus owners criticised by Magistrate for delays and failure to present defence
At today’s pre-trial hearing at Corby Magistrates Court, Northants, the legal team of circus owners Bobby and Moira Roberts was criticised by the Magistrate after again failing to submit all their defence statements. A third pre-trail hearing has now been set.
Bobby and Moira Roberts, owners of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, are charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to the mistreatment of “Anne” an elephant removed from the wild and sold to the circus. Animal Defenders International (ADI) had brought a private prosecution based on video evidence they filmed at the circus winter quarters. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are now taking the case forward.
At today’s hearing, the Magistrate noted that he “wasn’t impressed” that the defence had still not submitted any expert testimony and noted that the other defence statements had been a month late. Describing the statements that they had submitted as “bland” he indicated that he could see no reason why these had been so late. Consequently, he has time-limited the Roberts to produce their defence by March 22nd, with a third pre-trial hearing on March 30th.
The CPS asked if there had been any challenge to the veracity of the evidence collected by ADI. There has been no challenge. The Magistrate noted that he would take a “dim view” of it if a challenge were attempted during the actual trial.
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, who was at today’s hearing said: “This will be the first trial of a circus under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which states that owners have a duty of care to protect their animals from harm and to provide a suitable environment. This will establish what animal circuses consider are appropriate husbandry practices and whether these are legal.”
The trial is scheduled for 18th June, 2012.