Former veterinarian Mark Marohn is in court facing animal cruelty charges. A seven-year-old gelding was euthanized after it had to be rescued from a ditch in December

Former veterinarian Mark Marohn is in court facing animal cruelty charges. A seven-year-old gelding was euthanized after it had to be rescued from a ditch in December

Vet didn’t use horse to tow car, court told

Defence lawyer grills police officer at evidence hearing for former veterinarian

The only eyewitness to an alleged attempt to use an emaciated horse to pull a car from a Langley ditch stuck by her story Tuesday, as the trial of former veterinarian Mark Marohn resumed.

Langley RCMP Const. Liseanne Dumas rejected defence suggestions that she jumped to an incorrect conclusion when she saw Marohn holding a horse by its neck halter in front of the car.

Marohn and his then-wife Carol Schoyen-Marohn were charged with animal cruelty after the 2008 incident that ended with the euthanizing of the seven-year-old gelding.

Schoyen-Marohn’s trial has been postponed for health reasons.

Dumas, a member of the Langley RCMP traffic section, was the first officer on the scene.

She said she personally observed the horse was attached by his halter lead to the front of the vehicle.

Under questioning by defence lawyer Jacqueline Percival, Dumas could not recall exactly how the lead was attached, but described it as pulled “tight.”

Dumas also said Marohn admitted he was trying to tow the car.

“I don’t think your horse will be able to move the car out of the ditch,” she recalled saying to Marohn.

“He moved it a bit,” is how the officer recalls Marohn’s reply.

The defence lawyer noted the officer didn’t mention those comments in her first report, but added them about three months later when she updated it.

Shortly after she arrived, Dumas says the horse tried to jump away and landed in the ditch itself.

She could not say how the horse became detached from the car.

The defence position is that the officer, the only eyewitness to the alleged towing attempt, made an incorrect assumption when she saw Marohn trying to return a runaway horse to its barn.

When Marohn made his comment, Percival said, it was about getting the horse to move, not the car.

Under questioning by the defence lawyer, Dumas agreed it made little sense to tow the car from the front when it was nose-down in a ditch, rather than from the rear, but that was simply one of several “odd” things she observed that day.

As it turned out, the car in the ditch belonged to Marohn, but did not have a valid operating permit.

Dumas said the case did not become an animal cruelty investigation until she and another officer entered the nearby property Marohn and his wife were renting and saw five other horses that appeared underfed.

They went there, she said, because the wife had claimed to have a temporary operating permit for the car in the house but had failed to return with it when asked.

After seeing the horses, the wife was arrested in her house by the other officer, Const. Bryn Savage, who then returned to search the residence with Dumas.

They did not have a warrant.

“In retrospect, was that the right thing to do?” asked Crown prosecutor Liane O’Grady.

“No,” Dumas said.

The defence says the rights of Marohn and his spouse were violated by outraged Mounties who were wrongly convinced the couple were using an ailing horse to tow their car.

Percival wants the evidence excluded and the charges dropped.

The trial is expected to require another week of court time to complete.