Appeal hearing starts for Chilliwack dairy cow abuse sentences

Crown says sentences handed down were not long enough; two men cross appealing

Crown counsel says the sentences handed down to three young men caught on video abusing cows at a Chilliwack dairy farm were not long enough.

The men, on the other hand, say the sentences were too long.

Lawyers for both sides were in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Tuesday to hear the Crown’s appeal of the sentences to Travis Keefer, Chris Vandyke and Jamie Visser, along with a cross appeal filed by two of the men.

The proceeding was delayed, however, when it was revealed that Keefer was only officially served with court documents regarding the appeal three days before the hearing.

He showed up but told the court he needed more time to find a lawyer and prepare a defence. Crown said they tried to serve Keefer with papers in October, but he was in Dawson Creek.

The appeal was also no public mystery as lead Crown counsel Jim MacAulay told the court on June 15 an appeal of the three sentences was in the works, something reported by The Progress.

READ MORE: Chilliwack cattle abuse sentences not long enough says Crown

Keefer, Vandyke and Visser previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts of animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) act and one under the Wildlife Act (WLA).

On May 18, Justice Gary Cohen sentenced Keefer seven days jail, and Vandyke and Visser 60 days to be served on weekends. The men were banned from owning or handling animals for three years.

Their sentences were to be served intermittently on weekends to allow them to keep their jobs.

The three were among seven young men charged after a high-profile series of undercover videos filmed by animal right activists Mercy for Animals at Canada’s largest dairy farm, Chilliwack Cattle Sales (CCS).

MacAulay said after the sentences he would ask the appeals court to triple Vandyke’s sentence to six months, and ask for three to four months for both Visser and Keefer.

The company, Chilliwack Cattle Sales, and one director were also charged in the high-profile case. They pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay $345,000 in fines in December 2016.

The last man sentenced in the case was Brad Genereux in October. He was handed a 45-day jail sentence to be served intermittently, and an 18-month ban on caring for large animals

READ MORE: Last man sentenced in Chilliwack cattle abuse gets 45 days

Genereux’s lawyer Ed Cooper painted a picture of a “poisonous or toxic” work culture at Chilliwack Cattle Sales at the time of the incidents.

In a statement issued after the sentence, the BC Prosecution Service said after a review of Cohen’s ruling it was satisfied there were errors of law and the public interest required an appeal.

“The alleged errors of law relate to what constituted mitigating and aggravating factors,” the statement said; “and whether it was correct to equate the duration of the unlawful acts with the moral blameworthiness of the offenders.”

In essence, the Crown alleges the sentencing judge put too much emphasis on how many seconds each instance of abuse case rather than the sheer number of instances.

When told of the plan to appeal, MFA Canada vice-president Krista Hiddema said in the spring she was pleased the Crown was appealing to ask for longer sentences.

“We truly believe that the punishment must fit the crime to continue to send a clear message to the factory farming industry that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Canada,” Hiddema said via phone from Toronto.

During the appeal hearing on Nov. 14, the courtroom was filled with family and friends of the three men, along with a representative from MFA.

Crown began its case by, again, showing the undercover videos of the men hitting, punching and kicking animals violently.

The hearing was adjourned until Nov. 20 so Keefer can find legal counsel to mount his defence.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley centenarian: “getting old is for the birds”

Lillian Tuningley has lived in many communities around Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Quebec and Surrey students scrub and polish at Langley museum

A national exchange program includes a volunteer requirement. They opted to help the flight museum.

Letter: That other Langley letter writer should be censored

Township and City governance can’t be compared, one Langley resident writes.

Langley-based Giants receive awards, gear up for Friday playoffs

Ty Ronning walked away six different 2017-18 team awards.

VIDEOS: Langley university beats Castlegar to win first-ever league championship

Blue fans hope their support – literally painting themselves in blue – helped secure TWU’s victory.

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

VIDEO: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

B.C. man to plead guilty in connection with hit-and-run that killed teen

Jason Gourlay charged with failure to stop at the scene of accident, attempting to obstruct justice

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild goaltenders a cause for concern

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read