Workers employed by a Chilliwack-based agricultural employer seen allegedly tearing a live chicken apart in an undercover video filmed by Mercy For Animals.

Fraser Valley chicken abuse case hinges on activist videos

Defence still not content with disclosure of complete and unedited video

The case of chicken catchers accused of abusing animals at Fraser Valley farms inched closer to trial this week as lawyers further debated legal issues surrounding the undercover video footage, an integral piece of evidence against the companies.

Elite Farm Services Ltd., the company’s owner Dwayne Paul Dueck, and Ontario-based Sofina Foods each face 38 counts under the Health of Animal Regulations in connection with the alleged abuse of birds at local farms in 2017.

The charges came to light after California-based animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA) secretly captured video of the “egregious” abuse, video filmed using a body camera by an MFA volunteer who got himself hired as a chicken catcher.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack company charged with animal cruelty claims video evidence manipulated

• RELATED: VIDEO: Protesters voice outrage over Chilliwack chicken abuse video

In court on June 6, defence declined to enter a plea on the charges claiming they need to see unedited video from the “vigilante” activist who filmed the alleged abuse.

“The reason we cannot tell our clients whether to have trial by jury or trial in provincial court or even Supreme, is there is a complete lack of certainty that we have received unblemished… video materials which have not been the subject of meddling or manipulation,” lawyer Martin Finch said back in June.

After that hearing, Judge Gary Cohen agreed Crown needed to provide defence with the make, model and software used by MFA in its undercover videos as an important element for the defence in electing trial by jury or by judge.

“If the videos are good, this becomes a fact-driven case,” Judge Cohen said. “If the videos are not good, then this could be a technical case.”

He put the case over to this week to give Crown time to come back with the information on the video equipment or at least a timeline as to when they could get it. On July 9, Crown counsel Jessica Lawn said her office had received the unedited video from MFA, and was told by the main witness that he used an iPhone and one of three models of camera.

As part of the disclosure, however, Lawn put a number of undertakings one the evidence, which in part included orders that defence could not make copies of the videos. Defence argued this put serious challenges to them as the Ontario-based corporation charged had several animal-welfare experts that would need to see the footage.

Defence counsel for Sofina, Morgan Camley, suggested what they received from Crown, via the MFA undercover operator, was “fairly vague.”

“Some was iPhone and possible three makes and models and some [HD] cards that he got at a local London Drugs,” Camley told the court.

Judge Cohen, however, told defence that their nuanced objections to how and when they received video disclosure was not enough to further delay the case as defence continues to do.

“That’s not a good enough reason not to arraign,” Cohen told Camley. “It might be good enough for later application and later objections, but it is not a good enough reasons to not arraign today.”

However, Cohen agreed that defence should be allowed time for their experts to examine the video that was only provided one or two days before the hearing this week.

Defence and Crown was hoping to have the case put over to Aug. 7, but Cohen suggested a date in late July was better. The case is now set for arraignment on July 29.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Workers employed by a Chilliwack-based agricultural employer seen tormenting chicken in an undercover video filmed by Mercy For Animals.

Just Posted

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Victoria High School. (Black Press Media file photo)
Alumni Association abandons plans for eight-lane track at Vic High

SD61 spokesperson says easement, which makes 8-lane track impossible, left out of consultation

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read