The son of Tauranga lady Helen Fraser, pictured right here at her July trial, says the $42,000 invoice is unbelievable, and the council ought to take into consideration the place else to spend such cash. Photograph / Ethan Griffiths
Tauranga Metropolis Council’s authorized invoice from its failed prosecution of a lady whose canine attacked a vet has topped $42,000, with the price of a Excessive Courtroom enchantment nonetheless but to be tallied.
However the council’s authorized and danger supervisor says circumstances like this are uncommon and warrant searching for the providers of personal regulation companies.
Native lady Helen Fraser was charged with proudly owning a canine inflicting harm after her Rottweiler Chopper mauled the arm of vet surgeon Liza Schneider within the automotive park of her Fraser St observe on October 14 final yr.
Throughout a day-long trial earlier than Choose David Cameron within the Tauranga District Courtroom in June, each events accepted the assault occurred.
The query was considered one of accountability, with the council submitting Fraser ought to have had extra management over her canine, whereas Fraser’s lawyer prompt the actions of the vet spooked the animal.
Choose Cameron in the end sided with Fraser, saying Schneider “failed to take any steps to maintain and exercise control, despite having every opportunity to do so”.
Fraser was cleared of the costs and Chopper was launched from the Tauranga Dog Pound after spending 271 days locked up.
Had Fraser been convicted, Choose Cameron would have been required to order the animal be put down, until an distinctive circumstance might be proved.
In court docket, the council acted because the prosecuting authority, represented by Nathan Spier of Rice Spier – an Auckland-based agency that specialises in native authorities litigation and dispute decision.
In a breakdown of the authorized invoice offered to Open Justice, the most important portion of the entire price was $25,390 – solely for the prices incurred by the trial.
After the not responsible verdict was obtained, an additional $5782 was invoiced for the prices of “advice in relation to [the] merits of appeal” and time spent speaking with Crown Legislation.
The council finally determined, on recommendation from Crown Legislation, that an enchantment was warranted.
“Council believes the judge made an error of law because he focused on the conduct of the victim, rather than the legal responsibility of the dog owner to control the dog,” environmental regulation supervisor Nigel McGlone beforehand mentioned.
“Crown Law agrees that it is in the interest of the public to clarify this issue of law, as the outcome will have implications for all dog owners.”
An additional $6812 was invoiced for the preparation of the appliance for depart to enchantment.
Not one of the prices to date relate to the substantive enchantment listening to, prone to take a day within the Excessive Courtroom at Hamilton in March.
Responding to the figures, Fraser’s son Ryan Tarawhiti-Brown mentioned the fee is a monumental waste of cash.
“Some accountability is needed for the spending going on in the Tauranga Council. Community groups, local charities and services need funding and support, whilst $42,000 has been thrown at an attempt to kill a dog,” he mentioned.
“Ratepayers are begging for money to be spent differently, but their voices aren’t being heard.”
However the council’s authorized, danger and procurement supervisor Sam Fellows says: “Prosecutions such as this are relatively rare for Tauranga City Council and require specialist skills. Council will engage external counsel on a case-by-case basis.”
Fellows mentioned the council’s in-house authorized group, made up of seven full-time equal workers, doesn’t all the time have the assets or related experience to guide a prosecution.
“With prosecutions, resourcing is a key factor to consider, as a defended trial can incapacitate an in-house resource for a significant period of time.
“Further considerations will include staff availability, the area of law concerned, in-house lawyer expertise, the complexity of a matter and whether it is more efficient to use an external resource.”
The council wouldn’t touch upon the case as an entire, because it stays earlier than the court docket.
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