29 Jun 2017

Bobby calf abuser's jail time reduced

4:51 pm on 29 June 2017

A man jailed for cruelty to bobby calves has had his two and a half year prison term reduced by the Court of Appeal to 18 months.

Noel Erickson, 38, pleaded guilty to 10 charges laid by MPI in the Huntly District Court in Waikato on 28 July 2016.

Noel Erickson Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Noel Piraka Erickson had been jailed for two years and six months in a case that garnered national attention after the activist group Farmwatch installed hidden cameras at his workplace in Te Kauwhata.

His job was to assist the slaughter of slaughter bobby calves for pet food.

Farmwatch's footage showed gruesome incidents in which Erickson hurled a bobby calf onto the floor and kicked another one several times.

This led to 10 charges of animal cruelty, which he pleaded guilty to.

Erickson was initially dealt with in the Huntly District Court but the Ministry of Primary Industries appealed the sentence as being too low.

The High Court then upgraded his penalty to two and a half years in jail.

But the Court of Appeal has now found the High Court judge used the wrong starting point to assess his final sentence, after taking into account things like remorse or an early guilty plea.

The judges also commented at length on the accused man.

"While an offender must take personal responsibility for offending of this kind, it is as evident to us ... that Mr Erickson was placed in a deeply invidious situation," they wrote in their judgement.

"(He was) inexperienced with livestock yet engaged as a slaughterman, (he was) badly trained, not inculcated in the relevant codes of welfare, given inadequate equipment and essentially left to his own devices without supervision or support."

As a result, the court quashed his sentence of two years and six months' imprisonment, replacing it with 18 months in jail.

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