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

Salmo RCMP report drug bust

Fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized along with Canadian cash

Nelson Leafs lose to Beaver Valley, will face Spokane in playoffs

Reid Wilson also finished the regular season third overall in scoring

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Leafs, Nitehawks to decide division title Saturday

The regular season ends in Nelson with both teams tied on points

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Most Read