Wairarapa SPCA has walked away from court with its tail between its legs after dropping animal cruelty charges against a Dalefield pig farmer.
The agency was forced to apologise in open court.
John Anton Broeren, who was in Masterton District Court yesterday for a defended hearing on two animal cruelty charges lodged by the SPCA 14 months after he was told he would be prosecuted, received a public apology and an agreement the SPCA would compensate him and pay all veterinary bills along with returning his companion Hale, a Briard bitch taken from his property on September 9, 2011.
He was then one of only two Briard breeders in the country.
Mr Broeren's lawyer Michael Bott and SPCA prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk nutted out the agreement yesterday which saw the charges withdrawn and a settlement agreed, avoiding the prosecution going ahead. Mr Bott had sought a stay of proceedings for his client but the charges were withdrawn.
Irregularities in charging documents lodged 14 months after they should have been and a delay in charges being laid could affect the validity of the case, the court was told by the SPCA prosecutor. Submissions given to the Times-Age by the defence state an SPCA inspector went to Mr Broeren's property following an anonymous allegation regarding a pig on the road and discovered the dog in her day box. The inspector seized the dog.
Mr Broeren repeatedly tried to get back his dog.
On October 17, 2011 he was interviewed by police and then in July 2012 was told if he surrendered the dog he wouldn't be charged, the documents state.
He refused to relinquish ownership and asked that charges be laid promptly, Mr Bott submitted.
The pig farmer lived alone and the dog was "tremendous companionship", the court was told.
In a submission it was stated "since the seizure of his dog he has become increasingly depressed".
At the end of 2012, his lawyer asked why charges hadn't been laid.
Mr Broeren received a summons to appear in November with the SPCA claiming he had failed to provide the dog with proper shelter, food and protection from injury or disease.
No information was ever laid in relation to the matter, his lawyer submitted.
Following withdrawal of the charges, Mr Vanderkolk read out the apology in open court.
"The originating prosecutor, Wairarapa SPCA, unreservedly apologies for the grief, stress and anxiety caused to the defendant for the unacceptable delay," he said. "Counsel is satisfied that the conduct of the investigation, and therefore the conduct of the prosecution, was inflamed and lacked proper objectivity from the outset.
The Wairarapa SPCA publicly acknowledges the regrettable course of events and apologises to Mr Broeren."
An award of costs is confidential to all parties.
Mr Broeren said he accepted the apology and can't wait to see his pet again.