Author Topic: Tasmanian Dairy Farmer sentenced after 7 years in court - but walks free  (Read 2994 times)

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Tasmanian Dairy Farmer sentenced after 7 years in court - but walks free
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 06:34:30 PM »
Mitchell finally sentenced - updated - StopTAC statement

Roderic Neil Mitchell was sentenced in the Launceston Magistrates' Court last Wednesday, 18.09.2013. He has walked free again ... but temporarily. (Updated - Saturday 20.09.2013 in blue)


Roderic Neil Mitchell walked free from court yet again, after being sentenced by Magistrate Reg Marron to 15 months imprisonment, fines and costs of over $111,000, and a ban on having care or custody of animals for 10 years. Had all the matters been dealt with separately, the sentence could have been as much as 142 years imprisonment, with costs of over $2 million.

In a statement, Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty's Suzanne Cass said that, while she was pleased with the sentence, it was frustrating and disappointing that Mitchell once again has averted justice, albeit temporarily. Mitchell's barrister, Tom Moloney informed the court that the matter had been referred to the Supreme Court for 'review', so Mitchell was bailed until October 14. However, the Supreme Court may not conclude the matter until July next year.

'It just goes to show that when you can afford smart barristers - and Mitchell has had no less than three - you can keep on putting off the inevitable' Ms Cass continued. 'It's long past time that Mitchell faced the consequences of the immeasurable suffering, death toll and carnage he caused over a period of years on his Redpa farm'.

Mr Marron delivered a scathing series of reasonings for his sentence, noting that Mitchell showed absolutely no remorse for the terrible suffering of his cattle, and indeed had imported more.  Although the proven charges relate to about 180 animals, it is widely believed that in fact over 350 cows and calves suffered and died at his hands, Mr Marron also noted that Mitchell accepted no responsibility for his cruelty and abuse, and rather than taking advice and direction, formed the view that the authorities were 'persecuting and vilifying' him.

Moloney had referred the matter to the Supreme Court last year for review, arguing that Mitchell really hadn't meant to kill all the cows and calves (mens rea, or intent), and unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court rejected this contention because all the proven offences were ones of strict liability. It is unclear what they hope to gain by returning to the Supreme Court other than delaying Mitchell serving his sentence.
Ms Cass believes that, had she not raised the courts' conduct of the matter numerous times with the Attorney General, Brian Wightman, the case would simply have been allowed to disappear.

Prior to Mr Marron taking over the case, it had been delayed numerous times by Mitchell failing to appear; on some occasions submitting medical certificates and sometimes not bothering. No failure to appear charges were ever laid, but on one occasion he submitted a medical certificate stating that he had a 'gastric illness', but drove over 100km in Victoria to obtain that certificate. On another, he claimed to have fallen from a tractor and was on 'strong pain killers (Panadeine Forte), and posted on his Facebook page that same day that he was 'going out to get a hangover' and that he was 'on the move'.

This is Mitchell's Facebook entries on the day/s:
Posts by Mitchell, December 17, 18 and 19 on his Facebook page (scroll down for entries):-
December 17: (10.11 p.m.) Rod Mitchell is feeling thirsty. so is off to town to fix the situation
December 18: (12.38 a.m.) thirst fixed, now preparing for a hangover
December 18: (8.04 p.m.)  Rod Mitchell is a smart arse
December 19: (7.20 p.m.) Rod Mitchell is on the move
Here's the link

Rod + Friends
Just Rod
Just Friends

Mr Marron was unable to take these matters into account because Mitchell had not failed to appear before him.

Ms Cass is now calling upon the Attorney General and the Justice Department to disclose, as a matter of public interest, how much the case has cost the Tasmanian taxpayer.

Update: Saturday 20.09.2013

Ms Cass said that she had watched three hours of the video of evidence related to the investigation and described how distressing it was.
'Dozens of emaicated cows and calves, and dead and dying', she said. 'Cows with no eyes, because they had been pecked out by crows, in at least one case pre-mortem, cows with their vulvas bleeding from crow predation, and so many almost dead, who would have been destroyed by the authorities. The video also shows an incident where the authorities were attempting to seize a number of cattle, and Mitchell parked his tractor in front of the truck, let all the cattle loose and took to the fences and ramps with a chainsaw. Unconfirmed reports suggest tht Mitchell then took of on a a motorcycle and hid in a pit full od dead, rotting cattle carcasses for a period of some hours, thinking that he had "outsmarted"' the authorities in their efforts to seize the cattle'.

Ms Cass also has a copy of the judgment in the case, where Magistrate Marron found all but two of the charges proven, and was especially surprised by the people who testified for the defence. They included Alan Davenport, the Chair of the Dairy Council Commodity Council of the TFGA and subsequently, or concurrently, the Chair of the Dairy Industry Animal Health and Welfare Action Group. Mr Davenport is understood to be in line to be the next President of the TFGA.

In Mr Davenport's evidence, given on 16.04.2011, he states that he had never met Mitchell, but had about 5 telephone conversations with him over a period of four years, and the reasons for the conversations were that Mitchell was concerned with the 'approach that had been taken by the DPI' (sic). The critical elements of the evidence provided by Mr Davenport indicate that there was a multiplicity of documentation available both in hard copy form and online to dairy farmers (and therefore to Mitchell) in the state in respect of animal husbandry; in fact guidelines had been posted to every dairy farmer in the state. More startling is that Mr Davenport, in addition to conversations with Mitchell, was contacted by barrister Moloney a week before the case. Moreover, at meetings chaired by him, the Mitchell matter was discussed, and Mr Davenport admits to communicating to Mitchell what was discussed in what was meant to be a confidential forum.

Another defence witness was
Greg Tredinnick, the then Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Tasmania, who was sacked from that position in December 2009. Ms Cass says that it was reported to her that Mr Tredinnick tried to have the entire case withdrawn.

(Greg Tredinnick)

From the Examiner 19.09.2013

15 months jail for Animal Cruelty

A FORMER North-West dairy farmer has been given jail time after copping one of the toughest sentences for animal cruelty in Australia.

 Roderic Neil Mitchell, formerly of Redpa, was sentenced to a maximum of 15 months prison yesterday after being found  guilty  of nearly 190 charges in July.
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Launceston Magistrate Reg Marron ordered he serve nine months non-parole but bailed Mitchell pending a Supreme Court review of his guilty verdict, scheduled for next year.     

An ``over-confident'' and inexperienced Mitchell arrived in Tasmania to make money from the state's burgeoning dairy industry, the court heard.

But the venture became a nightmare with Mitchell ``grossly underestimating'' what it took to run a farm, unable to manage his dairy herds.

At one point his cows were dying at a rate of one per day compared to the industry average of two to five a year.

``[This is] the worst case to come before the court that I'm aware of,'' Mr Marron said.

``The community would be justifiably outraged by this appalling situation.''

Mr Marron said attempts by authorities to intervene were seen as ``interference''  as Mitchell developed a ``persecution and vilification'' complex.

The 32-year-old offended right up until the animals were seized, he said.

``He minimised his role and sought to shift responsibility to others,'' Mr Marron said.

``The inescapable conclusion is Mr Mitchell was aware [the herds] were struggling, suffering or dying.''

Mr Marron said Mitchell never accepted responsibility  and showed no remorse.

Even after being notified of the animals' poor condition he continued to import more cattle, he said.

Images and other evidence tendered to the court ``revealed animals in a grossly  emaciated state.''

The offences occurred between July and October 2007 with one matter in 2009 and included intimidating  a public officer, obstructing police and failing to dispose of  carcass properly.

Elements of the case have been ongoing for six years and in 2011 Mitchell referred the case to the Supreme Court on the interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Yesterday the court heard Mitchell had prior convictions including intimidating a public officer.

In sentencing, Mr Marron took into account  Mitchell's  exit from the dairy industry and ``public condemnation'' due the nature of the charges.

Suzanne Cass, from STOP Tasmanian Animal Cruelty, said the sentence would send a strong message to the livestock industry.
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``I think the sentencing was a pleasant surprise,'' she said.

Mitchell was ordered to pay $111,000 in costs and was banned from having custody of livestock for 10 years.  He is due to appear in the Launceston Supreme Court on October 14.

From the Daily Telegraph 18.09.2013

Roderic Neil Mitchell appeals against 15-month jail sentence over animal cruelty

A FORMER dairy farmer, who in July pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges, was this afternoon handed a 15-month jail sentence.

Magistrate Reg Marron granted bail to Roderic Neil Mitchell immediately after handing down his sentence, to make allowance for a Supreme Court appeal.

Defence counsel Tom Maloney told the court it would be unfair for Mitchell to begin his sentence ahead of a review by the Supreme Court, a process that could take until March.

Mr Maloney said by that time a large part of Mr Mitchell's sentence, with a non-parole period of nine months, would already have been served.

During sentencing Mr Marron said Mitchell had repeatedly refused to comply with advice and directions given by animal welfare officers, vets, neighbours and police.

He said there had been many courses of action available to Mitchell by which he could have prevented suffering by hundreds of dairy cows.

He said Mitchell had shown no remorse, and that his offences had been at the high end of the scale.

"It is clearly an issue in which deterrence is a most important consideration," he said.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 06:37:09 PM by Export News Tasmania »