R v Reckman, [2020] OJ No 1884 – Judgment

UPDATE: Details of sentencing can be found here.

On October 26, 2018, members of the OSPCA and the OPP executed a search warrant of the property of Hendrik Reckman and his son Joshua, who lived on the property outside in a tent and seldom went inside the property. Many animals were found on the property, however the 290 rabbits and 279 rats found were the subject of these proceedings (the remainder of the animals were outside the residence and under the care of J). The rabbits and rats were found in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions which was described as “deplorable and absolutely horrifying” (para.53) from the evidence given by the SPCA and OPP witnesses. Both men were charged with wilful neglect and causing unnecessary pain and suffering by failing to provide suitable and adequate care.

H. Reckman was previously prohibited in April 2014 from owning or having custody or control of or residing in the same premises as an animal or bird for the rest of his life.

The accused, H. Reckman, sincerely believed that there was no neglect of the rats and rabbits, and that “the better the sanitation, the poorer the health” (para.48). Throughout his trial, he was defiant and belligerent, quoting Bible passages in lieu of answering questions regarding animal care and referred to “God’s will” or Satan’s will, or “Satan made me do it” or “Satan is acting through the SPCA, the police, and the Crown,” and that there is a “conspiracy against him” and “religious persecution” (para.51(b,d)).

J. Reckman was found guilty of the charges relating to the rabbits because they were outside the residence and in plain view of his tent. He was not found guilty of the charges relating to the rats because there was no evidence that he ever went near them.

H. Reckman was found guilty on both charges, as well as for disobeying the previous animal prohibition order from owning and gun-related charges.