Sentenced for animal abuse

A North Okanagan man found guilty of neglecting horses in his care has been given a nine month sentence to be served in the community.

Gary Roberts is also not allowed to own animals for the next 20 years. He will be under house arrest for four months and will have to report in for the remaining five months.

Last December, Justice Mark Takahashi found Roberts guilty of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities of life for an animal.

While Crown counsel Alexandra Janse asked for a jail sentence of six to nine months, defence lawyer Julian van der Walle asked Takahashi for six months.

There was also a debate on how long Roberts should be banned from caring for animals.

Janse said a lifetime ban would be appropriate given the state of the horses that were seized in December, 2014 and what she said was Roberts' lack of remorse.

Van der Walle argued the 72 year old should be allowed to have some animals in his care.

But Takahashi said several of the horses seized were in dire need of food and medical attention so he imposed the 20-year ban.

Takahashi said the horses relied on Roberts for their food and shelter and he did not meet the needs of the more than 100 animals in his care.

“Numerous animals suffered over an extended period,” Takahashi said. “Mr. Roberts did nothing to alleviate their suffering.”

Following the sentencing, Roberts remained defiant saying the sentence was not fair and that “eventually the truth is going to come out about all of this."

Throughout the proceedings, Roberts had been highly critical of the SPCA, their handling of the situation and over their knowledge of animals.

Roberts said he is no longer in care of any of the horses. Some are still on his property, but he is living with a friend on a different property.

Roberts contends his charter rights were violated because the case took so long to get to trial and he plans to appeal on those grounds.

As he said during the trial, Roberts said he knew the animals in his care needed help and he was doing the best he could to look after them.

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