Men cleared over accusations of killing, torturing animals
Update 3pm: CHARGES of animal cruelty against two Ballina men have been sensationally dropped after the prosecution case collapsed with insufficient evidence.
Bradley Presbury and Reece Parke have been cleared of all charges relating to the death of 10 chickens and a tortured pig at Nimbin's Djanbung Gardens on December 13 last year.
Magistrate Annette Sinclair formally ended proceedings shortly after 2pm today in Lismore Local Court after the prosecution withdrew their case.
Family and friends of the two men walked out of the courtroom in relief.
They refused the opportunity to make a statement to the media on the advice of the men's lawyers.
However, one family member, who did not wish to be named, said the family had been treated appallingly during the almost year-long court proceedings, enduring a torrent of abuse over the allegations on social media and in person.
Another person said they had been forced to sell their home and were planning to move from the area following the allegations being widely aired in the media.
Bradley Presbury, 22, remains in custody on remand over other charges.
The mystery now remains unsolved as to who cut Polly the pig's snout and injured her internally on the night of December 13 last year.
A blood stained bamboo pole was found at the scene.
The 10 heritage chickens were brutally decapitated with a suspected stolen sickle.
Original story, 12.45pm: A HEARING over charges against two men accused of animal cruelty offences has been plagued by delays due to a dispute over the admission of evidence.
Reece Parke, 23, and Bradley Presbury, 22, are facing two counts each of animal torture and cruelty over the alleged incident last December 13 at Djanbung Gardens, the Nimbin permaculture farm and college.
Mr Parke is currently on bail, while Mr Presbury is in custody on remand.
A hearing in Lismore Local Court which began on August 30 before Magistrate Anne Sinclair was adjourned until today - but it is still being marred by delays - prompting Magistrate Sinclair to express her frustration over the waste of court time.
Mr Presbury's lawyer Tracey Randall told the court that the prosecution had failed to provide her with access to some of the evidence in the case.
She said an audio recording from a "key witness" was "never disclosed to the defence".
"Your Honour this continues the practice on the last occasion of (evidence) statements being handed over to the bar table as the hearing was progressing," she said.
"It's really not appropriate with a defendant on (such) serious charges.... No explanation has been offered."
Magistrate Sinclair said it was her "fervent hope" that given the four-month adjournment "the matter would be able to proceed swiftly".
"It seems that that hope's been dashed at the very first hurdle," she said.
"It's now 10am and we've done nothing... because the things that should have been done in that four month period have not been looked at until this morning."
Ms Randall subsequently raised objections to the use in court of a police interview with Presbury in which he allegedly implicated Parke in the crime.
"It's simply not admissible," she told the court, citing case law.
Magistrate Sinclair agreed, saying an associated defendant was not compelled to give evidence against their co-accused.
"It seems to me that that makes Mr Presbury an unavailable witness," she said.
Attempts by prosecution to tender a telephone call between Presbury and a female friend - in which he allegedly suggested Reece Parke was involved in the animal killing - also failed.
After excluding the evidence Magistrate Sinclair was forced to call an early adjournment.
More issues over the admissibility of evidence were raised after the hearing reconvened at 11.30am, but Magistrate Sinclair has signalled her intent for the matter to proceed today.
"No one is going anywhere," she said, until the matter progressed as much as was possible.
The hearing continues.