A worker employed by a Chilliwack-based agricultural employer seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-base animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.

Trial by jury for defendants in Fraser Valley chicken catching abuse case

Sofina Foods and Chilliwack company face charges in connection with 2017 undercover activist video

Defendants in the Fraser Valley undercover chicken catching abuse case finally chose to have their case heard by judge and jury on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Chilliwack-based chicken catching company Elite Farm Services Ltd., the company’s owner Dwayne Paul Dueck, and Ontario-based Sofina Foods were in a Surrey courtroom August 28 where, for a fourth and final time, Judge Gary Cohen asked lawyers if they were ready to arraign.

“We all know why we’re here, how have things gone since the last time I saw you all?” Cohen asked defence, referring to the July 30 appearance when the judge started to lose patience over the repeated delays. “Did you get the camera, did you get the testing done, did you make your decision on how you’re going to proceed?”

• READ MORE: Undercover video uncertainty delays start of trial for Fraser Valley chicken abuse

Martin Finch who is representing Elite and Dueck told the court that his clients still did not have the specifics regarding forensics, an issue that was causing uncertainty whether the defence should have the case heard in front of a jury or judge alone.

“I can tell you the defendants are all of a mind to make election today,” Finch said. “We’re going to do judge and jury.”

The hearing on August 28 was in Surrey simply for scheduling reasons as the trial will be held in Chilliwack. The court scheduled 10 days for a preliminary inquiry in advance of a jury trial.

The charges date back to 2017 when California-based animal rights activist group Mercy For Animals released undercover video filmed at multiple Fraser Valley farms showing employees ripping live birds apart, stomping and throwing chickens.

More than a year later Elite, Dueck and Sofina were each charged with 38 counts under the Health of Animal Regulations in connection with the alleged abuse. Employees were fired, the companies expressed dismay at the actions of those employees, and the BC Chicken Marketing Board expressed disgust at the practices seen in the video.

The video, however, remained the crux of the case and the source of delays as defence counsel said they were uncertain they had received unedited video.

At the July 30 appearance, the issue was made clear that if the video evidence was manipulated, then defence would likely want the case heard in front of a jury. If an expert who examines the video evidence determined no editing had been done in ways beyond already admitted, then the case would be simpler and better suited in front of judge alone.

Judge Cohen has expressed concern about the delays, particularly as it relates to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Jordan decision that mandates trials in provincial court need to be resolved in 18 months, and 30 months in Supreme.

The case is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 17 in Chilliwack to fix dates for the 10-day preliminary inquiry in advance of a trial, which is not yet scheduled.

• RELATED: One year later, still no charges in Chilliwack chicken abuse case

• RELATED: Chilliwack company charged with animal cruelty claims video evidence manipulated


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Mall redevelopment about Aldergrove parking, too

Letter writer encourages Township council support for Janda Group’s new plans for old Aldergrove mall

VIDEO: Fire closes 16th Avenue between 248th and 256th Streets in South Langley

Crews are on scene and are asking commuters to use an alternate route

Tax hikes possible in Township as budget talks begin

Just “keeping the lights on” could cost 4.12 per cent in tax increases

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

VIDEO: Langley rapper, C2B, readies for the release of new music video ‘Glass’

Single was inspired by the opioid crisis in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside

VIDEO: Bobcat infiltrates Shuswap couple’s coop, feasts on fowl

Police officers credited for attempting to assist with animal’s extraction

Metro Vancouver hit with $637,000 WorkSafeBC fine for ‘high risk’ sewer work

Workers could have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

VIDEO: B.C. mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

Young child seriously injured in suspected drunk driving crash in Delta

“This needs to stop,” says Insp. Ciaran Feenan, head of the Delta Police Department’s patrol section

Most Read