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Lawyers pro bono work obtains animal welfare conviction

Media Release

8 November 2012

Lawyers pro bono work obtains animal welfare conviction for SPCA

Aaron Lloyd and David Tong of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts yesterday obtained a conviction on behalf of the Auckland branch of the SPCA as part of the firm’s commitment to pro bono work. The District Court at Manukau convicted Alison Freemantle-Pilkington, 57, of Papakura for seriously neglecting five horses in her care. Judge Moses ordered her to complete 220 hours of community work, ordered her to pay $4,526.71 in costs, and disqualified her from owning horses for five years.

Ms Freemantle-Pilkington owned a number of horses, which she kept at a property in Karaka. In July 2010, the Auckland SPCA received a complaint from one of her neighbours and so inspected her horses. The inspector found that five of her horses were malnourished and instructed her to feed them. When he returned, he found that she had not adequately done so and that the horses’ condition had worsened significantly.

One horse, Jasper, had signs of scouring and although the inspector ordered that he be stabled and cared for, he died overnight. Another, Ace, showed signs of scouring the next day, so the inspector instructed a vet put him down. The Auckland SPCA uplifted the three remaining horses, which recovered with veterinary attention and proper feed.

The Auckland SPCA charged Ms Freemantle-Pilkington with ill-treating Jasper and Ace and with failing to provide proper food and veterinary attention to the other three horses. Ms Freemantle-Pilkington pled not guilty.

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts prosecuted Ms Freemantle-Pilkington on behalf of the Auckland SPCA. Partner Aaron Lloyd is a member of the SPCA Auckland Pro Bono Panel, a network of experienced lawyers who have agreed to take animal welfare prosecutions for the Auckland SPCA. The firm also provides pro bono legal advice to the SPCA on a number of employment and corporate matters.

Aaron, assisted by David Tong, conducted a six day trial in January and June 2012. Judge Moses found Ms Freemantle-Pilkington guilty of all charges in August 2012, but her lawyer indicated that she would apply to be discharged without conviction.

Aaron and David successfully opposed the application for discharge without conviction and presented the SPCA’s submissions as to sentence. Judge Moses indicated that he would have imposed the fine of $23,000 sought, but instead sentenced Ms Freemantle-Pilkington to 220 hours of community work because she could not afford to pay a substantial fine.

The SPCA is very happy with the result obtained by Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Auckland SPCA CEO Christine Kalin has said “We’re pleased with the outcome from this prosecution. Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, and Aaron and David, have done a fantastic job. Without support such as theirs we wouldn’t be able to take the cases to prosecution that we do. We hope that this case sends a clear message to people who insist on owning more animals than they can adequately care for: don’t let it get to this stage.”


Notes to editors:

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts occupies a unique position among the New Zealand law firms, being part of the Minter Ellison Legal Group. Worldwide, the Minter Ellison group has over 290 partners and 1,000 other legal staff in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China and the United Kingdom.

Among New Zealand's top law firms, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts is recognised by corporate New Zealand and trans-Tasman clients for its market leading corporate and commercial, property, banking and finance, employment, dispute resolution and insolvency law practices. It also has a wealth of experience in the areas of construction, competition, intellectual property, energy and resources, environment, public law, and tax.

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