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Yungngora defence lawyers claim staffing, weather as factors in animal cruelty as case moves to sentencing

Jane MurphyBroome Advertiser
Broome Courthouse and gardens.
Camera IconBroome Courthouse and gardens. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Broome Advertiser

Defence lawyers for an Aboriginal corporation convicted of 11 counts of animal cruelty on a Kimberley station say while the crimes cannot be excused, staffing issues and weather were key factors behind the offences.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development charged Yungngora Association Incorporation with a string of animal cruelty offences after hundreds of cattle were found dead on Noonkanbah Station between December 26 and December 30, 2018.

Many of the cattle were discovered bogged in dry mud or trapped in overflowing troughs.

A further 58 were euthanised.

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Defence counsel D. S. Johnson told Broome Magistrates Court on October 7 that while the charges could not be excused, some “valid reasons” could be provided to provoke a lesser penalty.

These included the resignation of an experienced station manager just a few months before the incident.

Mr Johnson said only one day of notice was given when the manager resigned and Yungngora did not have reasonable time to obtain a replacement.

On top of this, according to the defence, the station was suffering under the weight of additional tasks made by the summer’s hot and dry conditions.

Mr Johnson admitted the corporation was “fully remorseful” of its actions and many things had since been done to improve to the state of the station.

An additional 14 charges of animal cruelty, alleged to have occurred during the same time period, were dismissed.

Sentencing will proceed on October 19 at Broome Magistrate’s Court.

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