QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
1 Oxford Row
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF CONNOR PATTERSON|
|AND CAROLINE PATTERSON||Appellants|
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Mr M. Love (instructed by McKeag & Co) appeared on behalf of the Respondent
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"Disqualification under this subsection disqualifies a person—
(a)from owning animals,
(b)from keeping animals,
(c)from participating in the keeping of animals, and
(d)from being party to an arrangement under which he is entitled to control or influence the way in which animals are kept."
(5)Disqualification under subsection (2), (3) or (4) may be imposed in relation to animals generally, or in relation to animals of one or more kinds."
This was a general disqualification.
"On dates between 24 March 2011 and 6th December 2011 at Hope Cottage, being a person subject to disqualification extending to all animals, imposed on the 16 February 2011 ... breached that disqualification in respect of 11 ducks, two guinea pigs, seven rabbits, eight dogs, one hamster, 20 chickens and four turkeys, contrary to section 34(9) of the Animal Welfare Act."
Charge 2 was against Caroline Patterson, the second appellant. That alleges that on the same dates she did aid, abet, council or procure Connor Patterson to commit the offence of breaching his disqualification.
Each appellant was convicted of these offences.
"A person commits an offence if-
(a) he is responsible for an animal,
(b) an act or failure to act of another person causes the animal to suffer,
(c) he permitted that to happen or failed to take such steps (whether by way of supervising the other person or otherwise) as were reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent that happening; and
(d) the suffering is unnecessary."
Subsection (3) goes on to deal with what unnecessary suffering can include and section 9(2) provides:
"For the purposes of this Act, an animal's needs shall be taken to include—
(a)its need for a suitable environment,
(b)its need for a suitable diet,
(c)its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,
(d)any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and
(e)its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease."
The claimants were acquitted of six of the animal cruelty charges and convicted on four of them.
It is appropriate to consider the arguments relating to charges 1 and 2, breach of the disqualification order, first. It is common ground between the advocates that if on the facts found by the justices Mr Patterson could not be convicted of this offence, then he could not also be guilty of the animal cruelty counts. This is because if Mr Patterson was prevented by law from keeping or being responsible for animals, and he did not breach his obligations and even if the animals were in a state of neglect and suffering, he could not be the person responsible for lack of care rendered to those animals. If by contrast he was breaching the order and was in part responsible for caring for those animals, then there is no reason why he should not be jointly responsible with his wife for the way the animals were treated.
Equally it is common ground that Mrs Patterson could not be guilty of aiding and abetting Mr Patterson if he was not guilty on charge 1.
"That the appellants are husband and wife who live together at Hope Cottage with two very young children. Mrs Patterson is a farm worker on the estate. Mr Patterson looked after the two young children when Mrs Patterson was not there."
The next part of the case deals with history already summarised and then the evidence that is relevant to these convictions was recited:
"7.1.1 Evidence was given by RSPCA Inspector Walker that PC Heath and himself had visited Hope Cottage on 24 May 2011 and spoke to the appellants about the animals that continued to be at the property despite Mr Patterson's disqualification. Mr Patterson stated he had passed title to all the animals to Mrs Patterson and she was now solely responsible for them. The respondents believed this arrangement complied with the terms of Mr Patterson's disqualification.
7.1.2 In the opinion of the inspector this did not comply with Mr Patterson's disqualification because he was able to influence the manner in which the animals were kept, exercised some control over the animals and that he was in effect participating in their keeping. It is also his opinion that Mr Patterson knew of her husband's disqualification and her actions amounted to aiding and abetting his breach of disqualification.
7.1.3 The appellant signed PC Heath's notebook to confirm Mr Patterson's disqualification had been explained to them and they understood what this meant. They also confirmed the animals would be re-homed and were given 28 days to do this.
7.1.4 On 6th December 2011 at 07.54 hours a search warrant was executed at Hope Cottage by Northumbria Police with the assistance of RSPCA inspectors. As a result of this search five dogs in total were found inside the house, three Cocker Spaniels, a short haired terrier, a long haired terrier and a hamster. Other animals and birds, a dog spaniel, bitch spaniel, a Labrador bitch, seven rabbits, two guinea pigs, four Turkeys, eleven ducks, 20 chickens were found in the buildings outbuildings and garden. A total of 55 animals and birds were seized. As it was thought they were either suffering directly or being kept in an environment that would cause suffering.
7.15 In a statement dated 7 December 2011 PC Heath confirmed that on a visit to property on 6th December he provided a bucket of fresh water to the poultry and the poultry immediately drank from it until it was empty."
"The family living arrangements, from working arrangements and daily living conditions were such that Mr Patterson was living in close proximity to the large number of animals involved. He was able to participate, control or was able to influence the way in which animals were kept due to this close proximity. It would have been impossible for him not to have participated in the control or to have influenced the way in which a large number of animals were kept at the property and in the adjoining outbuildings. Therefore he was in breach of the disqualification order which had been imposed in March 2011 (count 1)."
I would accordingly answer the questions posed as follo0ws:-#
Question 1: The justices were nto entitled to find that Mr Patterson was involved in the control of the animals or was entitled to participate in their care.
Question 2: The justices were not entitled to convict Mrs Patterson for aiding and abetting Mr Patterson's breach of the disqualification order.
Question 3: The question whether there was a sufficient case to answer does not need to be considered in the light of the above and the fact that Mr And Mrs Patterson both gave evidence.
Question 4: The answers are yes in respect of Mrs Patterson but no in respect of Mr Patterson.
Question 5: The answer is yes an animal's needs include access to fresh drinking water