Thursday, December 11, 2014

RSPCA NSW and Wally's Piggery: The Reality

Footage published by Animals Australia, Animal Liberation NSW & Animal Liberation ACT

The footage shared by the above organisations is disgraceful and disturbing and was rightly condemned as such by the RSPCA NSW at the time it was first published in 2012.

Contact details and statements not provided 

That is why the RSPCA NSW sought from Animal Liberation NSW statements and/or the names and contact details of those who took the footage so that the footage could be used as the basis for a prosecution.  Animal Liberation NSW declined to provide this information when requested. This is confirmed by a statement on aussiepigs.com/campaign as follows:
"The RSPCA asked Animal Liberation to provide names and contact details of the activists involved in obtaining the evidence. However, advice from lawyers was that whether or not this information was provided to the RSPCA, it was highly unlikely that the illegally-gathered evidence could be used in court, and that it would put the activists in great danger from Wally and other pig farmers, and of course might lead to prosecution against them rather than the farmers."
Footage unable to be used in Court

Without witnesses and statements to authenticate the footage and when it was taken, the footage and images were not admissible in Court and could not be used as the basis for further investigation and prosecution. The RSPCA NSW’s hands were tied in taking the cruelty that appears to be depicted to Court as a result.

The RSPCA NSW Prosecution 

RSPCA NSW made a decision on 17 November 2014 to withdraw its prosecution against WSL Investments Pty Ltd, Wally Perenc and Stefanie Perenc (commonly referred to as Wally’s Piggery).

There appears to be confusion that the case at Yass Local Court related to the widely circulated footage. This is not correct as addressed above.

The RSPCA NSW’s case relied on the observations of inspectors, other agencies and was necessarily underpinned by examinations of an expert veterinarian, when they attended the premises in August 2012, and not the widely distributed video footage.

The RSPCA NSW carefully considered the prosecution evidence before the proceedings commenced and based its intended case on the admissible evidence then available.  Although 53 charges were before the Court, there were 11 primary charges with the balance being back up or alternative charges.

The decision taken by the RSPCA NSW to withdraw the prosecution was made in accordance with its duties, which, relevantly are consistent with the duties contained in the Prosecution Guidelines issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Legal advice from an independent Barrister (who was briefed to appear for the RSPCA NSW) advised that, in the circumstances, it was appropriate to withdraw the charges.

Like all responsible prosecuting agencies, the RSPCA NSW approaches all investigations and prosecutions with rigour where offences have reasonable prospects of success.

RSPCA NSW implores any person who witnesses or obtains evidence of animal cruelty to report it to the relevant authority immediately.