Horse hanging trial comes to an end

Verdict expected in early November

Verdict expected in early November

David Whiffen and Clayton Cunningham broke their silence, when the co-accused Cunningham addressed the judge during closing arguments — after both passed on taking the stand during their four-day trial.

The two are charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide the animal with the necessities of life, when Jalupae, an Appaloosa horse, was allegedly hung to death by tying a rope around its neck and lifting it with an excavator. The incident allegedly took place on Sept. 15, 2009 at a farm in Brentwood Bay.

“I don’t think a situation like this will happen again,” Cunningham said. “Unless they were cruel.”

In between whispers to Whiffen who sat next to him, Cunningham chastised and wondered out loud why the media hadn’t ask the two accused about the facts as the trial played out.

He pointed to the age of the horse, reported as 25 years by some media outlets, as inaccurate when he believes the horse was 27 when Whiffen acquired him at no cost.

Cunningham produced and referenced two documents but Judge Sue Wishart prevented him from using them because they had not been previously entered as evidence.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Murray didn’t take long to jump on his final words, targeting the word cruel towards Whiffen, pointing to his “willful neglect and cruelty towards that animal,” in ignoring advice to help the horse, who was no longer “able to take in the food it was provided.”

She went further by saying no one, not even defence witness Stephan Ouellet, who said he witnessed the event, could know for certain the horse was dead after the hanging and suggested it could have been “buried alive.”

Wishart quickly interrupted, stopping Murray from suggesting a scenario that could not be proven and had not been entered as evidence.

“(Whiffen) didn’t know what good care was,” Murray said. “And that goes to culpability as well.”

Defense attorney William Heflin drew the most animated response from attendees which included eight members of Justice for Jalupae, when he closed with, “There is no rule under legislation, regarding the protection of animals or humans, that you have to die fat.”

Because Wishart will be away, the verdict is not expected until after Nov. 4.