Langley vet used starving horse to tow car, judge rules
Saying he had "extreme difficulty" with the testimony of former Langley vet Mark Marohn, Surrey Provincial Court Judge Reginald Harris ruled that Marohn was using an emaciated former racehorse to tow a car from a ditch on Dec. 10, 2008.
Judge Harris found Marohn guilty of two animal abuse charges Wednesday morning, one of neglect and one of permitting animals to be in distress.
At his trial, Marohn denied a claim by an RCMP officer who said she observed Marohn trying to use the sickly horse named "Buddy" to get a car out of a ditch.
The horse had to be put down at the scene.
Marohn said the horse got loose, and he didn't want to return it to the stall because he was worried it might get out again.
Judge Harris said he didn't believe Marohn's testimony.
"I have extreme difficulty with it," Harris said.
"I don't accept his story, because it makes no sense."
"(It's) difficult to accept."
The judge described the testimony of Liseanne Dumas, the Langley RCMP officer who said she saw the horse tied to the car, as "clear, consistent and straightforward."
"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was using Buddy in an attempt to free the vehicle," Harris said.
The judge expressed some sympathy for the desperate circumstances Marohn found himself in, after he suffered a disabling injury that prevented him from working and his wife's equally disabling health issues that left him destitute at the time of the incident.
"He was depressed, his marriage had broken down, they were selling items from the house for food," the judge noted.
Marohn had six horses, including Buddy, that were growing steadily thinner as a result of lack of food, but had refused an SPCA offer to take them off his hands because one of his daughters would not be allowed to visit her former pet, the judge said.
"He was aware they were becoming emaciated. He was aware that something had to be done, but he didn't want the SPCA to take them."
Harris described Marohn as a "kind-hearted professional man" who "allowed his heart to take priority over his good judgment."
Marohn faces a possible maximum jail term of six months.
Sentencing has been postponed six weeks to allow a pre-sentence report that will include a psychiatric assessment.
Crown prosecutor Liane O’Grady said it was possible the psychiatric assessment would reveal "mitigating" information about the stress Marohn was under at the time of the incident.
Marohn's lawyer Jackie Percival said her client wanted to get the sentencing over with that day, but the judge said he would need more information before he imposes a penalty.
Marohn's estranged wife Carol Schoyen-Marohn's trial had to be postponed because she suffered a stroke.
It is expected to begin later this year.