R v Marohn, 2012 BCPC 198 & 199

In December 2008 a police officer responded to a report of a vehicle in a ditch. Dr. Marohn was at the scene with a horse, which he was using to attempt to pull the car from the ditch. The horse had collapsed and could not be raised to its feet. A veterinarian had to euthanize the horse. Necropsy revealed the horse was emaciated due to lack of food.

Dr. Marohn had financial problems due to an injury which made him incapable to work. He still collected horses on his property, despite knowing the financial burden.

Trial judge does not accept the accused’s evidence of the event, and states that he is “satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was using Buddy [the horse] to attempt to free the vehicle from the ditch,” despite knowing the horse was emaciated.

Although being in financial trouble, Dr. Marohn declined an offer from the SPCA to take four of his horses. He made some efforts to find alternative locations for the horses, which were not commensurate with the seriousness of the situation. The judge states, “it is clear that the accused’s heart and good intentions interfered with his good judgment… It interfered with him using due diligence in finding alternative solutions.”

The Crown has proven the elements as required in s. 24(1). With respect to s.446(1)(b), the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a marked departure from the reasonable care in these circumstances.

Dr. Marohn was found guilty of both counts.

Sentencing:

A large degree of the accused’s poor judgement in dealing with the issues related to the horse are related to his medical issues. He is unable to work, which put his family in dire financial distress. Dr. Marohn (a veterinarian) lost his practice and had to rely on friends for the housing of his daughters. According to the judge, “it is clear that if he had the financial means he would have properly cared for his horse,” and “the accused expressed genuine remorse” for his actions.

Denunciation and deterrence has already occurred by virtue of the public arrest, the conviction, the accused’s pre-trial release, conditions on release, and the extensive media coverage.

Dr. Marohn was sentenced to 24 months probation for each count, to run concurrently, as well as a 3 year prohibition order.