On 17 November 1997, Daniel Quinn was convicted of five offences. In the eyes of the authorities, this warranted the theft of the entire herd of cattle from Powhillon farm, the imposition of fines totalling £3700 and his disqualification from having custody of farm animals for three years. The charges also resulted in notoriety for Daniel Quinn in the media, in particular Border Television, paraphrasing the proceedings and outcome by stating that he had been convicted of having one of the most emaciated herds in Scotland.
The charges against which he was convicted were;-
- Contravening the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, Section 1, subsections 1(a) and 2 by failing to provide a Simmental cross stirk in his care with adequate food and prompt veterinary care and therefore caused the animal unnecessary suffering.
- Contravening the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, Section 1, subsection 1 by failing to ensure that livestock were fed on a wholesome diet appropriate to their species in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health and to satisfy their nutritional needs.
- Contravening the Animal Health Act 1981, Sections 1, 8 and 72 whereby he failed without lawful authority or excuse to attach ear tags to the right ears of three animals in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 16 of the Bovine Animals (Records, Identification and Movement) Order 1995.
- Contravening the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, Section 1, subsections 1(a) and 2 by failing to provide a Simmental cross cow in his care with adequate food and prompt veterinary care and therefore caused the animal unnecessary suffering.
- Contravening the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, Section 1, subsections 1(a) and 2 by failing to provide a Simmental cross heifer calf in his care with adequate food and prompt veterinary care and therefore caused the animal unnecessary suffering.
In summary, Daniel Quinn was charged with: failing to tag 3 out of 197 cattle, failing to cure a calf and a stirk of an incurable disease known as Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, failing to kill Maggie, a pet cow aged 21 years who had only just collapsed the day prior to the vets visit and lastly charged with failing to feed a herd which were allegedly so emaciated that they went on to destroy heavy metal gates on the farm they were sold to – for which Daniel Quinn was billed. Refer to Table 1. for full details of charges.
Convicted without Trial.
Daniel Quinn’s conviction was without trial. The proceedings on the 17 November 1997 were what are technically known as, ‘a disposal of the case’. No evidence was examined and no expert witnesses testified to the true condition of the animals. The events of the day were that the Crown "read in" the facts in support of the charge. The defence solicitor was then asked by the judge whether or not the facts, as read in by the Crown, were substantially correct, at which point, the defence solicitor relayed the defence’s position in relation to the facts. Once the legal professionals alone, settled the facts the judge made a finding of guilt and referred the matter for sentencing.
The case resulted in disposal rather than trial because as the authorities will vigorously maintain, Daniel Quinn pled guilty to the aforementioned charges. As you may already know, or can possibly relate to, appearing in court under criminal charges is an extremely intense, stressful and nerve-wracking experience, which in Daniel Quinn’s case passed by quicker than the blink of an eye. Daniel Quinn however maintains that at no point during criminal proceedings did he plead guilty nor authorise his solicitor to do so on his behalf.
The truth is Daniel Quinn never pled guilty and on the day of the trial he wasn’t even present during the calling of the diet (arraignment). A fact substantiated by the trial transcript where Temporary Sheriff Jamie Gilmour states in the first paragraph, “Pleas of guilty to charges 3, 5(f), 7, 8 and 9 were tendered on behalf of the Appellant.”. At this point in proceedings he was sitting with the witnesses awaiting his trial. Daniel Quinn was only brought into court after this step in proceedings. For centuries the prosecutor as well as the accused must be personally present at the calling of the diet. A fundamental priciple that persists to today as per Section 153 of Criminal Procedure ( Scotland ) Act 1995 (c. 46),
Trial in presence of accused.
153.—(1) Without prejudice to section 150 of this Act, and subject to subsection (2) below, no part of a trial shall take place outwith the presence of the accused.
(2) If during the course of his trial an accused so misconducts himself that in the view of the court a proper trial cannot take place unless he is removed, the court may order—
(a) that he is removed from the court for so long as his conduct makes it necessary; and
(b) that the trial proceeds in his absence,
but if he is not legally represented the court shall appoint counsel or a solicitor to represent his interests during such absence.
What makes this even more heinous is that Danny's presence in the remainder of the trial meant that he could potentially face a sentence of imprisonment, which is the sentence that Procurator Fiscal David Howdle craved for as recorded in the trial transcript, page 5. Without being allowed to make a plea they were willing to incarcerate their accused. Had Danny not even attended, then the court in the absence of the accused couldn't pronounce a sentence of imprisonment or detention. Reference Criminal Procedure ( Scotland ) Act 1995, Section 150A.
Pleading guilty means that you are giving up your right to a trial – you are excusing the Crown from having to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through the presentation of admissible evidence. It means that you are putting yourself at the mercy of the court to decide your fate. According to Elish Angiolini, Crown Office - a plea of guilty also means you waive your right to appeal against conviction which therefore prevents you from ever raising the facts of the case in court again. We have learnt this over time through our repeated attempts to appeal the conviction.
The Procurator Fiscal David Howdle did not have any evidence that Daniel Quinn had committed any cruelty in relation to R Hill & Co’s cattle an example being the defamatory remarks he made against Volac. Also unbeknown to R Hill & Co at the time, the cattle had been sold prior to the trial. The Ministry of Agriculture Vets and SSPCA wasted no time after removing the herd on 22 March 1997 and sold the initial lot on 23 April 1997 with the last of the stock sold on 18 June 1997.
Of the fifteen charges initially brought against Daniel Quinn, only five were “read in”. Out of the remaining ten charges, six were deleted and four had not guilty pleas agreed between the Procurator Fiscal and Gary McAteer of Beltrami & Co. The five remaining charges were selectively chosen as they were points Daniel Quinn and his solicitor Gary McAteer of Beltrami & Co had reviewed in the lead up to the trial.
In respect of charges 2, 5(f), 7, 8 and 9, yes we had failed to tag three out of our one hundred and ninety-seven cattle, yes we had a baby calf which was sick, yes we had a stirk which was sick, yes Maggie collapsed, and yes the farm was not capable of producing enough grass to feed all of the cattle but NO that did not constitute cruelty to the animals. The reason being we would have tagged the outstanding animals during the TB testing conducted every six months on the holding. The baby calf was diagnosed with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea and R Hill & Co were treating the calf with antibiotics (Depomycin) and feeding it a colostrum substitute which was a requirement the Procurator Fiscal himself referred to during the trial. The colostrum substitute we were feeding the calf was Volac's Volostrum, a product that the Procurator Fiscal went on to make defamatory remarks against when it was put to the court that Daniel Quinn was indeed feeding the calf properly. The stirk was also diagnosed with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea and was receiving antibiotics (Depomycin). Maggie was 21 years old and rather than destroy an elderly cow because she fell over, R Hill & Co used to work with their animals to get them back on their feet. We used a special harness which attaches to a tractor loader to lift the animal onto its feet for a couple of hours per day to keep her muscles active and try and build her strength back up so she can walk again. In terms of not being able to provide enough feed for the animals, the farm grasslands were being destroyed by geese but R Hill & Co, were buying in additional fodder for the animals. Our vets at Firth Veterinary services verified and substantiated our claims and supported Daniel Quinn. As far as we were concerned Gary McAteer had a substantial case against the allegations.
With the remaining five charges the legal professionals however played the system and Daniel Quinn’s state of mind. They used the fact that Daniel Quinn knew nothing of criminal procedure having no previous convictions. Following the secretive pleas the parties acted out the trial (or as we now know disposal) on five charges they knew Daniel Quinn was expecting to be argued in court. In doing so they knew that there wouldn’t be any interruptions from Daniel Quinn following strict instructions by his solicitor, Gary McAteer not to intervene in the process as to do so would go against him. The proceedings also bypassed corroboration which is a cornerstone of Scottish law. Even with the guilty plea, according to Scots law, the evidence has to be corroborated by at least two different and independent sources for each crucial fact before a defendant can be convicted of a crime. However, there is a shameful caveat that allows courts to act on the basis of an alleged expert's report alone, therefore requiring no corroboration. Gary McAteer at the time conveniently failed completely and he even led Firth veterinary services to believe that they would have an opportunity to address the court on the condition of the animals. As recorded in the trial transcript on the day of sentencing 08 December 1997 our vets expressed their concerns that they were not wholly impressed by what had been said by the Crown since the vet from the Ministry of Agriculture had been the only person who had given an expert opinion on the state of the animals removed from the farm and that no opportunity had been given to determine a contrary view.
Refer to highlighted section on Page 9.
The Procurator Fiscal David Howdle had already achieved his objective when Ministry of Agriculture Vets assisted by the SSPCA stole the herd on 21 & 22 March 1997 . The trial was merely a collaboration of the legal professionals and ministry to ensure that a guilty plea was recorded thus ensuring that the Procurator Fiscal would never have to answer to the theft of R Hill & Co cattle.
Factual History of Criminal Proceedings.
On 22 March 1997, Daniel Quinn was served with a complaint by WPC Susan Amanda Kerr. The complaint was at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal, David Howdle, and related to various alleged offences against the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954, Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1993, Agricultural (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, Animal Health Act 1981.
The complaint followed the theft of R Hill & Co cattle on the 21 & 22 March 1997 where Ministry of Agriculture Vets and the SSPCA stole the herd based on David Howdle's (Procurator Fiscal), illegal Warrant.
The offences were reported to the Procurator Fiscal by Ministry of Agriculture Vets, Kathryn Louise Kerr and Dr Michael Hugh Lamont following secretive visits to the farm during an alleged period from 1 December 1996 until 14 March 1997. The offences were never reported to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, as stated by Chief Inspector Kate Thomson and thus Daniel Quinn was never formally charged. He was to be tried summarily at the instance of Procurator Fiscal, David Howdle under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 with the first calling of the case commencing on 26 March 1997.
At the first calling, the court adjourned the diet without plea, following a motion by Daniel Quinn’s solicitor, Mr Colledge. It was rescheduled for 16 April 1997, where Danny attended by himself following the withdrawal of his solicitor on 11 April 1997, for reasons unknown. Daniel Quinn pled not guilty to all charges and Sheriff Fletcher adjourned the diet for trial on 19 June 1997 with an intermediate diet called for on 04 June 1997. Danny attended the intermediate diet on the 04 June 1997 and confirmed his pleas of not guilty to all charges but was instructed by the Sheriff’s clerk that he would have to obtain the services of a solicitor and be represented at the next hearing. The Sheriff’s clerk advised on Beltrami & Co. A further intermediate diet was assigned on 11 June 1997 at which Danny was represented by Beltrami & Co. Not guilty please were tendered again by D Quinn but the diet for trial was adjourned until the 15 September 1997 at the request of the solicitor from Beltrami’s. A further intermediate diet was conducted on the 02 September 1997 with D Quinn again being asked to confirm his pleas where again he pled not guilty to all charges. The trial was once again set back this time until 17 November 1997 at the request of D Quinn’s solicitor but without the express permission of the defendant. Daniel Quinn wanted the trial to proceed because he had now been without the cattle for over five months. A final intermediate diet was conducted on 3 November 1997 where again Daniel Quinn personally pled not guilty to all charges and finally the diet was to be heard on 17 November 1997. At the trial diet on 17 November 1997, D Quinn was not arraigned and as recorded in the trial transcript, pleas were tendered on behalf of D Quinn by Gary McAteer but without the express permission of his client and without D Quinn being present.
Daniel Quinn pled not guilty five times prior to the trial diet however on the day of the trial he wasn’t even arraigned. The truth was that the Procurator Fiscal had no evidence that Daniel Quinn committed any offences. Any evidence they claim they may have had was sold, destroyed and lost. All they had left was hearsay from the Ministry of Agriculture Vets which was in direct conflict with the opinion of R Hill & Co’s own vets.