Workers employed by a Chilliwack-based agricultural employer seen allegedly tearing a live chicken apart in an undercover video filmed by Mercy For Animals.

Fraser Valley chicken abuse case hinges on activist videos

Defence still not content with disclosure of complete and unedited video

The case of chicken catchers accused of abusing animals at Fraser Valley farms inched closer to trial this week as lawyers further debated legal issues surrounding the undercover video footage, an integral piece of evidence against the companies.

Elite Farm Services Ltd., the company’s owner Dwayne Paul Dueck, and Ontario-based Sofina Foods each face 38 counts under the Health of Animal Regulations in connection with the alleged abuse of birds at local farms in 2017.

The charges came to light after California-based animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA) secretly captured video of the “egregious” abuse, video filmed using a body camera by an MFA volunteer who got himself hired as a chicken catcher.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack company charged with animal cruelty claims video evidence manipulated

• RELATED: VIDEO: Protesters voice outrage over Chilliwack chicken abuse video

In court on June 6, defence declined to enter a plea on the charges claiming they need to see unedited video from the “vigilante” activist who filmed the alleged abuse.

“The reason we cannot tell our clients whether to have trial by jury or trial in provincial court or even Supreme, is there is a complete lack of certainty that we have received unblemished… video materials which have not been the subject of meddling or manipulation,” lawyer Martin Finch said back in June.

After that hearing, Judge Gary Cohen agreed Crown needed to provide defence with the make, model and software used by MFA in its undercover videos as an important element for the defence in electing trial by jury or by judge.

“If the videos are good, this becomes a fact-driven case,” Judge Cohen said. “If the videos are not good, then this could be a technical case.”

He put the case over to this week to give Crown time to come back with the information on the video equipment or at least a timeline as to when they could get it. On July 9, Crown counsel Jessica Lawn said her office had received the unedited video from MFA, and was told by the main witness that he used an iPhone and one of three models of camera.

As part of the disclosure, however, Lawn put a number of undertakings one the evidence, which in part included orders that defence could not make copies of the videos. Defence argued this put serious challenges to them as the Ontario-based corporation charged had several animal-welfare experts that would need to see the footage.

Defence counsel for Sofina, Morgan Camley, suggested what they received from Crown, via the MFA undercover operator, was “fairly vague.”

“Some was iPhone and possible three makes and models and some [HD] cards that he got at a local London Drugs,” Camley told the court.

Judge Cohen, however, told defence that their nuanced objections to how and when they received video disclosure was not enough to further delay the case as defence continues to do.

“That’s not a good enough reason not to arraign,” Cohen told Camley. “It might be good enough for later application and later objections, but it is not a good enough reasons to not arraign today.”

However, Cohen agreed that defence should be allowed time for their experts to examine the video that was only provided one or two days before the hearing this week.

Defence and Crown was hoping to have the case put over to Aug. 7, but Cohen suggested a date in late July was better. The case is now set for arraignment on July 29.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Workers employed by a Chilliwack-based agricultural employer seen tormenting chicken in an undercover video filmed by Mercy For Animals.

Just Posted

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Teen accused in Abbotsford attack on 85-year-old convicted of firearms offence

Brandon Janveaux found in vehicle in Chilliwack with .22-calibre rifle down his pants

Dad of missing Abbotsford woman charged after allegedly exposing himself in park

Barry Shpeley charged with sexual assault and assault at Hougen Park

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

All Mission Public Schools are open today, Jan. 17, except for Deroche Elementary

Superintendent expains one school closed because buses are not running on Nicomen Island

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Coquihalla, Highway 3 to be hit with freezing rain, sparking warning to commuters

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

VIDEO: Newbie Vancouver Giants leads victory over Victoria 4-1 Friday

The G-Men play Saturday in Victoria before hosting Kamloops on home ice in Langley Sunday afternoon

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Should winter tires be mandatory in the Lower Mainland?

ICBC dial-a-claims go up as winter storm takes toll

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

Most Read