The chickens may be coming home to roost for David Lee, Victoria and Jason Leroy Small, charged with multiple counts of permitting an animal to be in distress, failing to provide adequate food and failing to provide care necessary for general welfare. The case has limped through the Ontario’s provincial offences court since last May when the carcasses of 13 horses were found buried on a Vandorf Road farm, along with 14 more horses and a pony neglected and malnourished.
This morning, February 5th, the lawyers for the accused – prominent Toronto attorney Calvin Barry (representing Victoria and Jason Leroy) and Shilpa Pathak (representing David Lee) – met with Crown attorney Thompson Hamilton and a representative from the OSPCA and came to an agreement. All parties are to appear at the Newmarket Tannery Courthouse on March 5th at 1:30 p.m. for a guilty plea and sentencing. The Smalls have been ordered by the court to be in attendance. The Crown previously stated they would be seeking a jail term, prohibition on ownership as well as fines, but was not able to comment today on whether or not there would be any reduction in the charges offered in exchange for the guilty pleas. Crown Thompson did state that he would check the provincial case law if it would allow a community victim impact statement to be filed with the court prior to the sentencing. Information on this statement from the equestrian community, prepared by litigator D. Sid Freeman, can be found here.
The Small family may well have decided to enter guilty pleas not, as defense counsel has suggested, to show remorse and provide closure, but rather to focus on the many other charges they are facing, including theft of saddles and equipment and fraud in which they were selling fractional ownership in purported “racehorses” that either did not exist or they did not own.
For information on just some of the other charges, click here.