After greater than half a decade, a Tasmanian ferry operator and a former Australian polo captain have been ordered to pay hundreds of {dollars} in fines over the deaths of 16 polo ponies. 

Sixteen of the 18 polo ponies have been discovered lifeless within the transformed refrigeration trailer they have been travelling in, after the Spirit of Tasmania ferry docked in Melbourne in January 2018.

The ponies had been in Tasmania’s north competing in a polo occasion at Barnbougle.

Polo captain Andrew Williams pleaded responsible to 17 counts of breaching the animal welfare act in July 2022.

The case towards Williams ran alongside however separate from the case towards ferry operator TT-Line, which was discovered to have breached animal welfare legal guidelines in October final yr.

Within the Burnie Magistrates Court docket, Justice of the Peace Leanne Topfer ordered TT-Line to pay a $75,000 superb, whereas Williams was fined $15,000.

Convictions have been recorded on all costs towards each events.

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What occurred on board the Spirit of Tasmania — the polo ponies loss of life case defined

In handing down the long-awaited sentences, Justice of the Peace Topfer advised the court docket TT-Line was strictly answerable for checking on the welfare of the ponies and “it merely did nothing to adjust to that requirement”.

Attorneys for the corporate had argued towards a conviction being recorded, saying it could “plainly have an effect on TT-Line’s status”.

“I give little weight to those submissions,” Justice of the Peace Topfer advised the court docket.

“Because the impact on the horses was so profound, I contemplate it applicable to report convictions.”

She additionally mentioned the numerous authorized expense of successive appeals would have value the taxpayer, saying as a government-funded firm, its solely two stakeholders have been the state treasurer and the state infrastructure minister.

Williams ‘failed in his obligation’

Truck driving down ramp on to ferry.
One in all two Willo Polo vans carrying ponies drives onto the Spirit Of Tasmania in 2018.(Instagram: chelcroz)

Justice of the Peace Topfer appeared favourably upon Williams’s early responsible plea, saying it confirmed “actual utility” and famous the prolonged delays within the case weren’t his doing.

Nonetheless, she discovered the trailer the 49-year-old was utilizing to move the ponies had “insufficient measurement, allocation and placement of air flow”.

Horse transport truck parked on Spirit Of Tasmania ferry.
One in all two Willo Polo vans carrying ponies onboard the Spirit Of Tasmania in 2018.(Instagram: chelcroz)

Justice of the Peace Topfer additionally advised the court docket Williams did not test on the horses for an hour after disembarking.

“You failed in your obligation to these horses,” she mentioned.

She accepted that Williams was remorseful and “devastated” over the incident — his first animal welfare offence in an in any other case “glorious” report, having labored with horses all his life.

Spectators watch polo competitors in action.
The animals have been concerned in a contest at Barnbougle Polo, close to Bridport, in 2018.(Fb: Barnbougle Polo)

Sentencing delayed a number of occasions

That is the third time the matter has been listed for sentence, because the case itself drags into its fifth yr.

Andrew Williams.
Polo identification Andrew Williams is going through related costs to TT-Line.(Fb: Willo Polo)

Justice of the Peace Topfer didn’t proceed to condemn at the beginning of February as deliberate as a result of a big subject had arisen from a report offered by Mr Williams’s legal professionals.

The court docket heard the report, from a veterinary surgeon with greater than 40 years’ expertise, acknowledged the truck’s ramp ought to have been lowered to permit for better air flow.

Justice of the Peace Topfer advised the court docket she couldn’t sentence Williams and TT-Line on separate units of info, so she wouldn’t sentence both till all events had absolutely thought of the report.

One other look in mid-February additionally didn’t proceed to condemn.

Court docket motion not over

The 2 long-running circumstances have now splintered off into additional court docket motion, with TT-Line lodging an attraction towards the responsible discovering within the Supreme Court docket of Tasmania earlier than being sentenced for it.

Williams, in the meantime, has launched a civil motion towards TT-Line within the Supreme Court docket of Victoria.

Within the wake of the discovering, the corporate applied a snap livestock transportation ban, leaving many within the lurch within the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup.

The Tasmanian government-owned ferry operator’s most up-to-date annual report exhibits it spent nearly one million {dollars} on authorized recommendation final monetary yr, a lot of it with a Victorian agency for authorized illustration and contract negotiations.

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