A man on trial for animal cruelty on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula admitted to police he never planned to spend much money on animals later found frozen to death because he planned on killing them.
Tony Barrett, a Winterland farmer who has pleaded not guilty to four charges of animal cruelty, appeared in court in Grand Bank on Monday.
In a videotaped conversation with investigating constable Jill Kennedy, Barrett said he wanted to get out of farming because of the costs and heavy workload.
On two separate incidents in January, frozen animals were found at Barrett's property. Investigators on Jan. 6 found five cows, two sheep and a goat frozen solid — but kept with living animals in a series of sheds on Barrett's property.
Nine days later, investigators returned to find an additional 11 sheep and two cows.
Barrett claimed that he knew that some of his animals were undernournished but that he was surprised himself at the state of the animals in his care.
He said that they had come in from pasture the previous month and blamed bad hay for their poor condition.
Barrett did not live on the same property as the animals. He blamed storms as the reason he did not get to the property to care for the animals.
All of Barrett's water pipes had frozen, although Barrett said the animals had previously gone for three days at a time without drinking water.
No drinkable water found at farm
Investigators did not find any drinkable water provided for the animals and no food, although bales of hay were found on the property.
At least one surviving pony was euthanized due to extreme malnourishment and pneumonia.
An SPCA investigator testified that she saw a number of dead animals with a young calf licking snow off them.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Marcus Evans asked Kennedy if she really believed that she knew Barrett didn’t mean to starve his animals, as she told Barrett during the taped interrogation.
Kennedy said that she was simply building rapport with Barrett. When pressed on her belief, she said that she did not think he maliciously starved them but that he didn’t care about them.
Kennedy called his actions "grossly negligent."
A number of veterinarians are expected to take the stand on Tuesday. In all, about 16 witnesses are expected to be called during the course of the trial.