District Judge finds warrant unlawful - evidence and vet advice excluded.

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District Judge finds warrant unlawful - evidence and vet advice excluded.

Post  Admin on Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:51 pm

By Nigel Weller, Aug 4 2014 03:09PM

Once again the failings of the police and the RSPCA to comply with the Animal Welfare Act and S.15 and S.16 of PACE 1984 were exposed in Swansea Magistrates.

A police officer who received instructions from the RSPCA to obtain a warrant under s.23 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, again failed to inform the court, thereby misleading them of the facts warranting the entry to a domestic dwelling. The warrant was applied for on a very narrow issue that the husband and wife – who were disqualified for life from having animals – had a large number of cats and dogs at their premises. The police officer had been at the property and was able to confirm that our clients who were disqualified were living there, but living there with their son who most importantly was not disqualified and who had claimed ownership of all the animals when spoken to by the police officer. For whatever reason the PC kept these important facts from the magistrates hearing the application, which of course may have affected their decision to issue a warrant.

The officer failed to comply with S.15 and S.16 of PACE, in that he never told the clients why he was there, he never showed them a copy of the warrant before the search commenced and he failed to return the executed warrant back to the court. A copy of the warrant could not be found until the officer appeared half way through the trial, claiming he had found a copy of the warrant in his desk drawer. Notwithstanding the fact that he had been sent away by the court to look for the warrant two days before.

Furthermore his notebook dealing with the search warrant, the application and execution thereof had also been lost. Matters to which the District Judge referred too when ruling on the admissibility of the warrant when delivering his judgement. The District Judge made reference to the recent case of Sweeny [2014] EWHC 2068 (Admin) stating that there were so many breaches of PACE in this case, combined with attitude of the officer, left him no choice but to rule that the evidence flowing from the warrant including all the veterinary evidence, examinations etc. should be excluded as they were obtained unfairly and if admitted would be to prejudicial to the defence.

This is yet another case which highlights perhaps how the judiciary – and let’s hope lay magistrates – will not only examine in more detail the actual applications for warrants but also will be receptive to defence advocates' arguments that warrants have not been obtained properly. What was also important was the poor drafting of the complaint not containing sufficient or appropriate information, but the failing of legal advisers and the officers concerned in making proper notes of what transpired at the application. For instance, applications under Section 23 of the Animal Welfare Act have to satisfy the court that the requirements of Section 52 of the Animal Welfare Act have been complied with. It requires that a series of questions and answers have to be made to the prosecution, of which notes must be made to show compliance and to validate the grounds of the warrant. It is our experience notwithstanding the fact that we always ask for a copy of the legal advisors notes, we have yet to date received any confirmation that a note was even made, let alone being Section 52 compliant.

Defence solicitors should now no longer accept warrants at face value and should question the validity of the same and be robust when asking for copy documents and explanations.

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District Judge Finds Warrant Unlawful

Post  Trilby Bee on Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:06 pm

TBH I doubt very much that many in the Police understand much about the AWA, parts of which are complicated. Saying which, this rather sounds as tho' the police officer involved here had not got a clue what he was doing. I see things like this and I know for a fact that if ever I did my job so badly I'd be out of work in no time.
And quite honestly, since parents and son lived together, saying the animals were his (ie belonged to the son) really is a nonsense since the deprivation order specifies that the banned person should not be in a position to have influence on the way animals are kept...if you are in the same house, obviously you are going to feed them, take them for walks, look after them while the son is away etc. If the boy went away for the weekend and an animal became ill, the parents would (might) take it to a vet which would be in contravention of the deprivation order.
Trilby Bee

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