R. v. Bourque, 2013 BCCA 447

This is an appeal from a sentence of nine months in prison followed by three years of probation in 2012. The appellant was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to two animals, killing two animals, and possessing a weapon with the intent to endanger public peace. The probation order contains 46 conditions, and the appellant claims that some of them are irrelevant, unnecessary, vague, unreasonable, and do not serve a valid purpose under the Criminal Code.

Kayla Bourque murdered and dismembered her family’s pet dog and cat. She documented and filmed these events. At her Simon Fraser University apartment, she also had what has been described as a “kill kit,” which included a knife. She pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the two pets (section 445.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code), killing the two pets (section 445(1)(a) of the Criminal Code), and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose to the public peace (section 88(2) of the Criminal Code). Ms. Bourque was sentenced to two months in prison (plus seven months in pre-trial custody) and three years on probation. Her probation includes 46 conditions designed to protect the public and rehabilitate Ms. Bourque. She requests leave to appeal some of the terms of her probation order as well as the lifetime animal prohibition order under s 447.1(1) of the Criminal Code.

Upon review of the facts of the initial trial and subsequent probation conditions, the Court determined that Ms. Bourque has a history of torturing and killing animals, and has indicated the desire to escalate that behaviour to humans. She enjoys this behaviour and is unaware of the harm and suffering she causes these creatures. She was diagnosed as meeting the criteria of sexual sadism, hematolagnia (drinking blood), zoosadism (inflicting pain and suffering on animals), and antisocial personality disorder, and her condition is considered to be permanent and not temporary. Based on the facts and psychiatric evaluations, Ms. Bourque is young and dangerous, and requires 24-hour supervision. The probation conditions are reasonable in this case for the most part, as they have a legitimate purpose and “any impediment to rehabilitation is outweighed by the need to protect the public” (para. 34). The Court found that she has forfeited the privilege of having animals as companions by betraying their trust in her.

The appeal was allowed in part only for the purpose of clarifying the language in conditions 35 and 39, which related to anything intended to conceal her identity and having a peace officer attend her place of residence at any time to confirm that she is complying with the condition that she not reside anywhere or have custody or control of any animal.

R. v. L.M.R., 2010 ABCA 286

The respondent entered a guilty plea to three charges: sexual interference, child pornography, and bestiality. She was sentenced to four and a half years in prison overall. In 2002, the respondent gave birth to a daughter. They lived with the biological father in Edmonton for several months before the respondent moved out, leaving the child with her father. The father retained custody of the daughter until May 2007, when it was discovered that he was using the internet to solicit women for sex with him and the child. That complaint led the police to his home, where the child was apprehended and the aforementioned video recording was discovered among the father’s collection of pornography. There were also recordings of the respondent attempting to sexually engage a dog, which the father had also filmed. The sentencing judge imposed a total sentence of four and a half years in prison, divided into three and a half years for sexual interference, one year (consecutive) for making child pornography, and one year (concurrent) for bestiality.

R. v. B.M., 1998 CanLII 13326 (ON CA)

The accused was charged with numerous sexual offences against nine people over a 39-year period, including his four daughters, an ex-wife, two other relatives, a babysitter, and a family friend. At the time of the offences, some of the complainants were very young children, including one two-year-old. He was also charged with bestiality in connection with the attacks on two dogs. The trial judge denied the defence counsel’s request to sever two counts of bestiality at the start of the trial, citing the delay in bringing the request and his belief that the bestiality allegations would not inflame the jury any more than the allegations of abuse of the accused’s children.

The defence theory was that the complainants had either intentionally conspired against the accused or unconsciously influenced each other’s recollection of events. The defence counsel hoped to use the complainants’ phone records to prove their collaboration. The defence counsel’s request for the production of the complainants’ phone records was denied. The defence wanted to bring in a memory expert, such as a psychologist. The trial judge qualified her as an expert but excluded her testimony on the grounds that it was calculated to confuse the jury into believing that no one could have a memory of a 20- or 30-year-old event; the case was not complicated and lay persons deal with the assessment of memories every day; because there is a debate among experts about how memories work, a great deal of time would be expended on cross-examination and the Crown having to call its own expert; and the jury.

The accused was convicted on 33 of the 49 counts. He appealed. The trial judge erred by failing to adequately instruct the jury on how to apply the evidence from the various counts. When evidence from one count is inadmissible as similar fact evidence on other counts, jurors must be instructed to consider each charge separately and not to use evidence from one count as evidence on any other counts. The jury was correctly instructed in the charge to reach a verdict on each count separately. The trial judge, however, failed to inform the jury that they could not consider evidence on one count in reaching a verdict on another. The Crown’s address to the jury, in which they were invited to consider the effect of the evidence as a whole as proof of the allegations and which highlighted the consistency in the complainant’s evidence, exacerbated this failure.

The expert’s evidence did not explain how she tested her hypothesis, and her conclusions appeared to be based on anecdotal evidence. Furthermore, the portions of her proposed evidence that were merely a general discussion about the memory process unrelated to any specific problems, in this case, were properly excluded on the basis of relevance. Such evidence would not have helped the jury understand the Crown witnesses’ testimony.

The conviction was appealed.

R. v. Parsons, 2010 BCCA 377

This is a sentence appeal from a five-year sentence imposed on the appellant for breaking and entering a dwelling house with intent to commit an indictable offence under section 348.1(a) of the Criminal Code, sexual assault under section 271 of the Code, and knowingly uttering a threat to injure an animal under section 264.1(1)(c) of the Code. The breaking and entering offence resulted in a five-year sentence. 

In brief, the appellant, who was about 42 at the time of sentence, went to the victim’s house in 2003 when he knew the male occupant would be at work and not at home, broke down a barricaded door, and sexually assaulted the victim. The accused allegedly threatened to kill the victim’s cat during the assault in order to force her to comply with his wishes. Prior to this incident, the appellant and the victim were in a relationship, and the victim was living with another man at the time. 

The circumstances of the offence are aggravated to the extreme because it was clear from certain communications between the appellant and the victim that the victim feared the appellant would come into the house and harm her, so she and her partner took steps to barricade the house’s entrances. The appellant, on the other hand, managed to avoid the barricade and gain access to the house at a time when he expected the victim to be present and the male occupant to be absent. Despite the victim’s attempts to hide from the appellant, he eventually tracked her down and sexually assaulted her. It had a significant impact on her. The police were called and he was arrested at the scene. 

The nature of the crimes included breaking into the victim’s home and sexually assaulting her. This victim, like any other Canadian citizen, has the right to feel safe and secure in her own home. Section 348.1 requires that this be regarded as a significant aggravating factor. He used threats and violence against the victim. These included violently grabbing the victim’s hair and pulling it out, threatening to kill her pet cat, threatening to beat her up if she didn’t cooperate, slapping her across the face, and threatening to bite off her clitoris. 

The appeal from the sentence was dismissed and the man was charged.

R. v Elite Farm Services Ltd., 2021 BCSC 2445

Both Elite Farm Services Ltd. and Sofina Foods Inc./Aliments Sofina Inc. pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty. Count 2 charges them with unlawfully loading or causing to be loaded an animal (chickens) in a manner likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it between May 10, 2017, and June 7, 2017, in or near Chilliwack, B.C. Count 8 charges the same offence but takes place between May 17, 2017, and June 8, 2017, in or near Abbotsford, British Columbia. Each count alleges a violation of section 139(2) of the Health of Animals Regulations, C.R.C., c. 296 and a violation of section 65(1) of the Health of Animals Act, S.C. 1990, c. 21. Furthermore, the probation order’s terms will ensure that the corporations continue to comply with the Act and Regulations. As a result, the sentence will read as follows: – On count 2, the judge imposed a 175,000 dollar fine on both Elite Farm and Sofina. – On count 8, the judge fined Elite Farm and Sofina 125,000 dollars each. – Elite Farm has ten years to pay the fines imposed on counts two and eight. – Sofina has six months to pay the fines levied on counts two and eight. – In addition, Elite Farm and Sofina will be subject to a three-year probationary period with conditions.

R. v. Perrin, 2012 NSPC 134

Mr. Perrin, the accused, pleaded guilty to a single charge of killing a cat in violation of section 445.1(a) of the Criminal Code (Code). The case is now before the Court for decision. Because the Crown proceeded by indictment, the maximum sentence is a term of imprisonment of no more than five years. 

Mr. Perrin contacted the landlord of his apartment building on December 3, 2011, at approximately 9:00 p.m., to request her assistance in removing a splinter from his left heel. He went to the landlord’s apartment and asked for her help in removing the splitter. The landlord did not notice any scratches on Mr. Perrin at the time. Later that evening, around 9:30 p.m., the landlord heard a loud banging noise coming from Mr. Perrin’s apartment, which was directly below hers. The loud noise was caused by a concerned resident pounding on Mr. Perrin’s apartment door in an attempt to elicit a response from within. Residents of the apartment building heard thrashing and nose banging coming from the apartment. They described the terrifying noise as sounding like a cat crying out in agony. After hearing this, a resident attempted but failed, to kick in the door to Mr. Perrin’s apartment. The resident could hear a cat whimpering from the other side of the door at that point, so he called the landlord. The police were called to the apartment. When the cops arrived, they discovered Mr. Perrin asleep in bed, wearing only a T-shirt. On the bed was a pair of bloody jeans. Mr. Perrin’s sneakers were also blood-splattered. Mr. Perrin’s arms, hands, and legs were also covered in scratches, according to the officers. He was also very inebriated.

Mr. Perrin was sentenced to 30 days in prison to be served at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility on an intermittent basis from Friday at 8:00 p.m. to Monday at 6:00 a.m., beginning on Friday, November 23, 2012, and continuing until the sentence is completed. He was also sentenced to 24 months of probation.

R. v. Rogers, 2002 BCSC 386

On September 11, 2001, a Provincial Court Judge convicted David Charles Rogers of threatening to kill a dog. The appellant and the main Crown witnesses, the Cutlans, appeared to have a history of conflict. According to them, the appellant yelled at them as they approached his home with their unleashed dog on the day in question, “Get your (f’ing) dog on the leash.” “Why you’re not on one,” Krista Cutlan responded. “Get your (f’ing) dog on a leash or I’ll (f’ing) kill it,” the appellant was said to respond. 

The appellant’s main complaint is that the trial judge did not properly instruct himself on how to apply reasonable doubt to the issue of credibility. According to the trial judge, the issue of credibility was viewed as a choice between the testimony of Crown witnesses and that of the appellant. A direction to the trier of fact in this manner is a legal error: R. v. W.(D.) (1991), 1991 CanLII 93 (SCC), 63 C.C.C. (3d) 397. (S.C.C.).

The appeal was dismissed.

R. v. Hughes, 2008 BCSC 676

This is an appeal from the decision of a Provincial Court judge who found the respondent not guilty on a charge under s. 446(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. 

Sara Kons was the owner of two cats on February 14, 2005. She was in a relationship with the respondent, who was present at her home on the night in question. She had gone to bed when she was awakened by the respondent, who informed her that he had sat heavily on the couch, which had a faulty leg and severely injured the cat who was underneath the couch. She stated that the cat was gasping for air and that the only thing she knew to do was break the cat’s neck because there was no veterinarian in town. She went back to bed and promptly fell asleep. She was then startled awake by the sound of a microwave door opening. When she went downstairs, she noticed the accused holding the cat outside the microwave oven. The microwave door was open, and the cat was carrying a weight on top of it. 

The actus reus of this definition of the offence necessitates proof that the accused caused the animal unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury. The Crown must prove that the accused acted “wilfully” under the mens rea requirement. In the context of Section 446(1)(a) of the Code, this necessitates proof that the accused intended such a result or that a reasonable person would recognize that his or her actions would expose an animal to unnecessary pain, and suffering, or injury.

He was found guilty and was sentenced on April 22nd at 9:30 in the morning.

R. v. Heynan (K.) (1992)

The accused works as an outfitter and guide in the Yukon Territory. His assets are held by Kusawa Outfitters Limited, a limited company. He is the company’s sole shareholder and officer. A number of horses are required for the guiding business. After the Yukon hunting season ended in November 1990, the horses – about a dozen in number – were transported to the Teepee Creek area of Alberta for the winter. Farmers in the horses’ neighbourhood became concerned about their plight in March 1991. Mr. Tom Rycroft, in particular, was concerned enough to contact the R.C.M.P. Dr. Peter Moisan, a veterinarian, and Morris Airey, an Alberta S.P.C.A. special constable, examined the herd and pasture on March 19th. They discovered 21 live horses and three dead horses. Dr. Moisan performed an autopsy on two of the three bodies, which were skeletal remains, and the third, which had been dead for two or three days. He concluded that it died of emaciation, that is, from a lack of food. Dr. Moisan also looked over the pasture. The field had a significant amount of ice on it in addition to a significant amount of snow. As a result, the majority of the hay was inaccessible to the foraging horses. Some grass poked its way through the ice, but it was far from enough to keep the herd from starving. 

The defendant raises two defences. The first is that the information claims he is the owner of the horses. In fact, the evidence indicates that the legal owner is the corporate entity Kusawa Outfitters Limited. As a result, it is argued, that the charge should be dropped. In support of that claim, the defence has cited the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. y. Rosen (1985), 44 C.R.(3d) 232. In that case, the accused was accused of being a trustee of certain funds who converted them to use not authorized by the trust. The defendant’s second argument is a lack of the required mens rea. There is no doubt that the accused failed to provide adequate food for his horses. However, in order to invoke Criminal Code sanctions, the Crown must go further and prove that the accused’s behaviour was willful.

Mr. Heynan’s actions are without a doubt deplorable and may constitute an offence under other laws. The evidence, however, does not support the necessary ingredi­ent of wilfulness, and the Criminal Code charge against the accused was dismissed.

R.v. JB, 2009 QCCQ 9880

In May 2008, neighbours of the accused contacted the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) due to their disturbed feelings of witnessing the ill-treatment that the accused inflicted on his German Shepard dog, an officer came to the home and left a notice, which the accused did not act on. On June 6, the neighbour brought the dog to the SPA, the accused came to retrieve the dog and officers of the SPA gave him tips on how to train the dog. A further complaint was filed on June 8 alleging that the defendant kicked the dog severely, breaking his femur. The dog required surgery, and the accused agreed to give it up by signing an abandonment document. However, he then made multiple attempts to get the dog back but was repeatedly turned down. When it comes to the August 2008 offences, stem from the accused’s detention during the course of a probe into a stolen car. A list of the accused other offences can be found here.

The Court emphasizes from the start that the main issue, in this case, is not so much the accused’s mental health as it is his denial of the situation. Evidently, as his attorney points out, he denied the diagnoses and contested all requests for psychiatric follow-up. The probation officer stated that the accused’s mental health problem was insufficient to excuse his actions. According to the Tribunal, a 12-month prison sentence takes into account all of the circumstances, including the fact that the accused was remanded in custody for 3 months and 7 days. However, as the Tribunal pointed out during the sentencing submissions, this period of pre-trial detention cannot be counted twice because it was prolonged due to his attitude, and he was detained in a hospital rather than a prison.

The accused pleaded guilty to the following charges: deliberately injuring an animal (June 2008); possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, simple possession of amphetamines and methamphetamines, breach of probation (August 2008); possession of ammunition during a ban, simple possession of hashish and breach of recognizance (November 2008). In files 450-01-057166-089 and 450-01-056708-089, the accused was sentenced to 6 months in prison. In all other files, the accused faces a 12-month prison sentence. After serving his time in prison, the accused must serve his sentence in the community.