Coun­cil sticks to court ac­tion

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By SIENA YATES and FLORENCE KERR

South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil in a closed meet­ing de­cided last week to again pur­sue Carolyn King, owner of Jimbo, in court, which will see the bill to ratepay­ers rise, with one politi­cian de­scrib­ing the move as ‘‘too stupid to be true.’’

In a press state­ment the coun­cil said their lawyers’ costs would be capped at $1000 plus GST, how­ever, the case will not be heard un­til next year mean­ing the costs of keep­ing Jimbo in­car­cer­ated will keep ris­ing at $50 a week.

Coun­cil­lors be­hind closed doors de­cided to continue the bid to have the Toko­roa stafford­shire bull terrier de­stroyed, ar­gu­ing it was nec­es­sary to keep the community safe. The con­vo­luted le­gal saga has in­curred costs of nearly $80,000 of ratepay­ers’ money so far.

South Waikato News un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment In­for­ma­tion Act, re­quested from the coun­cil how the coun­cil­lors voted on the res­o­lu­tion to take the mat­ter back to court and also asked for the au­dio from the pub­lic-ex­cluded meet­ing where the de­ci­sion was made.

The coun­cil de­clined to re­lease the in­for­ma­tion stat­ing the ‘‘coun­cil does not usu­ally record how mem­bers cast their votes in meet­ings.’’

But Cr Lyn Cor­ban voted against tak­ing the is­sue back to court and wanted her de­ci­sion recorded.

The au­dio from the meet­ing would not be dis­closed to main­tain pro­fes­sional le­gal priv­i­lege, the pri­vacy of peo­ple dis­cussed and the dis­clo­sure may prej­u­dice the main­te­nance of the law, coun­cil said.

Mayor Neil Sin­clair said a dog as ag­gres­sive as they be­lieved Jimbo to be, should not be re­leased back into the community and his coun­cil wanted to close a le­gal loop­hole that al­lowed the dog out un­less his owner was con­victed.

‘‘We take our re­spon­si­bil­ity in this re­gard very se­ri­ously. The risk of this dog at­tack­ing an­other an­i­mal and a per­son get­ting caught in the cross-fire is not a risk the coun­cil is pre­pared to take,’’ he said.

Jimbo has lan­guished in le­gal limbo for close to two years af­ter his al­leged at­tack on a rab­bit and an­other dog landed him in the pound fac­ing be­ing put down, and his owner, Carolyn King, fac­ing charges un­der the Dog Con­trol Act.

But a High Court vic­tory for Mrs King saw the charges thrown out and Jimbo’s death sen­tence lifted un­til the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to try its luck in court again.

Mrs King’s lawyer, Scott NgapoLip­scombe said if his client won, they would seek costs from the coun­cil.

It is un­der­stood to be as much as $15,000, which would bring the coun­cil’s to­tal to about $95,000.

Mr Ngapo-Lip­scombe said his client was ‘‘dis­ap­pointed’’ that the coun­cil did not con- sider other op­tions put to them.

‘‘ We put to the coun­cil a num­ber of op­tions which in­cluded keep­ing Jimbo con­tained at Ms King’s ru­ral prop­erty, Ms King be­ing the only per­son to han­dle Jimbo and giv­ing ac­cess to the coun­cil dog con­trol staff to check that these con­di­tions are be­ing ad­hered to. My client says it is un­be­liev­able that the coun­cil have cho­sen this costly course of ac­tion.’’

Labour lo­cal gov­ern­ment spokes­woman An­nette King said the case was one for the Guin­ness world record book.

‘‘It al­most sounds too stupid to be true. Close to $80,000 – I’d imag­ine that could be well used for pos­i­tive ac­tion for the peo­ple of South Waikato.’’

BACK TO COURT: The South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil will pur­sue Carolyn King in court in a bid to have the dog, Jimbo, de­stroyed.

Ki’ng – An­nette

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