Mark Marohn is banned from owning animals for three years, a B.C. Provincial Court judge has ruled.
Marohn was convicted in March of wilful neglect of an animal and causing an animal to be in distress. He was sentenced in Surrey Friday.
Marohn was arrested in the winter of 2008 when he was found trying to use Buddy, a severely emaciated gelding, to pull his unlicensed car out of a south Langley ditch.
Buddy was euthanized at the scene after he collapsed and couldn’t get up. Five more horses were seized by the SPCA, and one was euthanized. The remaining four have been adopted by new owners and have recovered fully. Because of problems with the legality of the search of Marohn’s home, the court rejected evidence about the five horses other than Buddy.
Crown prosecutor Liane O’Grady had called for Marohn to serve a three- to four-month conditional sentence, while the defence had asked for an absolute discharge.
Judge Reg Harris said he believed a discharge — essentially, no penalty at all — would not be enough. But, he said, this was Marohn’s first offence and it was the end result of a long series of misfortunes that had impoverished Marohn and reduced his good judgment.
Therefore, he gave Marohn a suspended sentence, which includes two years of probation. If he completes the probation with no further offences, there will be no sentence.
Harris also ordered Marohn to perform 150 hours of community service.
His criminal record and the publicity surrounding the case have already been part of the penalty for his crime, Harris concluded.
“To a large measure, denunciation and deterrence has already occurred,” Harris said.
Marohn’s misfortunes began with a broken neck in 2000 had left him relearning how to walk over years of rehabilitation. He had lost his veterinary practice and home, and while he had tried to rebuild his business, it collapsed again a few years before the incident.
His wife was separating from him, both had serious health problems, and Marohn was selling items from his house to buy food.
“It is clear that if he had had the financial means he would have cared for Buddy,” the judge said.
Marohn was suffering from depression and anxiety, and still is, according to a pre-sentencing report. He still has physical problems linked to fibromyalgia and his back injury.
Despite his dire financial position, Marohn owned six horses at the time. The SPCA had approached him after complaints about their condition, and had offered to take up to four of them off his hands, but he had refused and continued to try to care for them despite having little or no money for food.
Marohn’s wife, fellow veterinarian Carol Schoyen-Marohn, was also charged in the incident, but her trial has been delayed until October due to serious medical issues.
Both Marohn and his wife have been suspended from the College of Veterinarians of B.C. since January 2006 and January 2010, respectively, for not paying their fees.
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