The Appellants were charged that they did wilfully and without lawful excuse place poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by cats, kept for a lawful purpose, contrary to s. 401(B) of the Criminal Code.
Not quite a year before the offence, the Appellants alerted the Complainant that the cats were coming onto their property and that the Appellants proposed to trap them using humane traps. They caught both cats, and returned them to the Complainant with the request that the cats be so controlled to keep them out of the Appellants’ property. In response, the Complainant suggested that the Appellants should hose the cats with water if they returned.
On May 2, 1988, the Complainant’s cats became ill and died from consuming fish impregnated with antifreeze, which is an odourless poison. The Complainant searched the neighbourhood for the source of the poison and discovered a dish of fish just inside the Appellants’ rear yard, placed on a retaining wall supporting the fence. On analysis, the fish was found to be impregnated with the same antifreeze poison which had killed the cats.
The Provincial Court trial judge found beyond a reasonable doubt that both Appellants had wilfully placed the dish of poisoned fish, but he acquitted the Appellants.
The Crown appealed the acquittals to the Court of Queen’s Bench which allowed the appeals on the basis that the Trial Judge had made an unreasonable finding that poisoned food inside the fenced back yard of the Appellants was not for that reason in a position that it might be easily consumed by the cats.
In this case, Crown counsel conceded that there was no admissible evidence that the male Appellant committed the offence. Crown counsel did, however, urge that the Court must infer that the female Appellant placed the poison, because it was urged that no one else would have done so.
The Court concluded that while all persons must feel revulsion against animal poisoners, such revulsion must not be permitted to relax the evidential requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, allowing the appeal and setting aside the convictions.
Source: Case Law