Three men on trial for animal neglect

A fourth man remains at large

Three men have gone on trial for animal neglect in the Hamilton District Court.

The men face multiple charges under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, including for failing to meet the animals’ physical, health, and behavioural needs.

The charges come after SPCA inspectors, tipped off by members of the public, discovered four emaciated horses living on a Waitomo farm owned by the defendants.

Inspectors removed the horses from the farm, but all have since been euthanised.  

SPCA inspector Ron Savage told the court that all of the animals showed signs of overwork and mistreatment.  He said the horses were emaciated and in a “terrible state”. One of the horses was covered in burns and close to death.

It was one of the worst cases of animal neglect he had seen in his thirty years in the role.

But the three defendants have denied all charges, and the lawyer for one of them has challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

“You puny weaklings have no power over my client,” lawyer Ron Mansfield told the judge. “For my client doth ride a pale horse and his name be Death! Tremble in fear, mere mortals, for the day of judgment is upon you all!”

Mr Mansfield’s client is Barry Hades, 43, who also goes by the name of Death.

One of the other defendants, Norman Conquest, 27, who is known among associates as “Pestilence”, told the court that they had tried to care for the horses. But work had sometimes got in the way.

He told the court his horse, a white mare named Bessie, was his primary means of transportation. Recent work commitments had meant a huge amount of travel.

“It hasn’t been easy spreading so much sickness and disease around the world these last few years,” he said. “It’s a demanding role that requires a lot of travel. But I’ve always done my best for old Bessie.”

But in cross-examination he admitted more could have been done for the horses.

“We probably could have rested them more,” he said. “But my job would be a lot easier if people would just get vaccinated and wear a mask. I mean, how hard is it, really?”

A fourth man is still being sought by the SPCA for questioning in connection with the alleged animal cruelty.

Adrian Marshall, also known as War, departed New Zealand two weeks ago. He is believed to be somewhere in Eastern Europe.

The trial before Judge Lumley continues.

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