A cattle rustling case that is part western and part CSI entered its final stages yesterday in the Auckland District Court, as the prosecution and defence summed up their cases.
Wellsford contractor Nigel Collins is accused of stealing 21 cattle from farms neighbouring his property in the Whangaripo Valley, north of Auckland. The charges relate to the theft of one group of 19 Friesian cows and two beef cows.
The prosecution based its case on DNA evidence, the animals' distinctive ear markings, their clearly recognisable nature and the inconsistencies and coincidences of Collins' evidence.
When the cows were alleged taken they were all were pregnant. DNA testing of their calves linked both the cows and the bull that inseminated them to the complainant's farm.
Prosecutor Julie-Anne Kincade, said the DNA evidence was "extremely important and highly persuasive".
She said the discovery of exactly 19 pregnant cows in a secluded gully hidden from the road, indicates they were certainly those claimed to be stolen.
"There was 19, not 18 not 20, but 19 cows."
The cows in question were also found within a "raggedy" herd, very distinct from the Friesians.
Collins' lawyer, Greg Bradford, said his client maintained the cows were his.
But in the case that Collins was wrong about his ownership of the cows, the defence stressed that the Crown had failed to prove his intention to take the cattle, and that there was little proof he actually stole them.
Bradford said if the cows didn't belong to Collins, they had wandered onto his land on their own.
The prosecution said the cows were clearly recognisable by their natural marking. It also claimed a cut fence in the paddock where the cows were last left to graze, clearly indicated human involvement.
Bradford questioned whether the ear markings were unique and said the fence was in sufficient state of neglect that the cows could have escaped.
He also accused the police investigation of being unbalanced, careless and lazy.
Bradford said the investigating officers had a preconceived belief in Collins' guilt.
The judge will give his verdict on October 19.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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