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 Chilliwack chicken catching abuse case

Sofina Foods and Fraser Valley company face charges in connection with 2017 undercover 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, kicking 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 all along 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 Court.

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

Hundreds fill Chilliwack streets for Black Lives Matter march

‘Canada has a problem too,’ reads at least one protester’s sign

Chilliwack RCMP heard gunfire en route to suspicous activity

Chilliwack man, 42, sent to hospital after shooting, RCMP have confirmed

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Chilliwack council supporting protests against racism

City calls for participants to be cautious of distancing and to wear masks due to pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found the body while on foot patrol: Surrey RCMP

Most Read