A Vernon judge has handed down a nine-month jail sentence to an Armstrong man who breached his sentencing conditions after being convicted of animal cruelty. It is the longest jail sentence related to an animal cruelty case in B.C. history.
Gary Roberts, 69, was found guilty of two counts of animal cruelty on Dec. 19, 2016 after BC SPCA animal protection officers seized 16 emaciated horses from his property. On March 14, 2017 he was sentenced to a 20-year prohibition on owning animals, four months of house arrest and a nine-month conditional sentence.
“Roberts violated conditions of his sentence on March 23 and a warrant was issued for his arrest,” said BC SPCA senior animal protection officer Kathy Woodward. “On April 12 he was back in court and the judge handed down the strongest sentence possible, noting that Roberts had shown a blatant disregard for his court order.”
The 16 horses seized from Robert’s property in the Armstrong area north of Vernon were so emaciated that some of them barely registered on the body conditioning scale used by veterinarians to determine normal body weight.
“Some of them were a .5 on the scale of one to nine and three of the horses had to be humanely euthanized because they were in critical distress,” said Woodward. The remaining horses received treatment and rehabilitation in the care of the SPCA and were rehomed.
Woodward said there are up to 30 horses remaining on Roberts’ property but arrangements have been made with his family and friends to care for or sell the animals.
Shawn Eccles, senior manager of cruelty investigations for the society, said he hopes the record jail term handed down in the case will be a deterrent for other offenders who disregard court orders in animal abuse cases.