The RSPCA has been ordered to pay a couple more than $1.4 million damages after one of its inspectors negligently shot dead 131 pure bred Murray Grey cattle.
A judge of Victoria's County Court earlier ruled that the cattle - 126 cows, two bulls and three calves - were shot by an RSPCA inspector with "indecent haste".
Judge John Bowman found that the herd, shot on a farm outside Warrnambool in 2003, was put down without consultation of its owners, James Holdsworth and Heather Ellison. They sued the RSPCA for damages after the inspector Jason Nicholls dispatched the cattle in the presence of colleague Mark Roberts following a complaint about starving animals.
Mr Holdsworth and Ms Ellison argued the herd were not in a condition that required destruction while the RSPCA denied negligence. In his 258-page decision in August, Judge Bowman said that the "whole operation conducted by Nicholls on behalf of the (RSPCA) ... seems to have been conducted with what could be described as indecent haste."
After adjourning the case for argument about the amount of damages, Judge Bowman recently issued judgment, describing the proceedings - which began more than 10 years ago - as "extremely vexed and relentlessly contested".
"At times, some issues were contested almost to the point of the absurd," he said.
Mr Holdsworth and Ms Ellison were represented by Stratton Langslow and Peter Berman with the RSPCA by Dan Christie.
Ms Ellison had described the cattle as her "pride and joy" while Judge Bowman accepted her evidence that the cattle - he accepted that the calves were of commercial value only - were to form the essential foundation of a stud enterprise.
Judge Bowman fixed damages at $1.45 million, being $1.24 million lost profit for the stud enterprise and $175,000 for lost profit for an artificial insemination business.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/co...e-bred-cattle-