Council sticks to court action
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