Former Australian Polo Captain Pleads Guilty To Charges Arising From Pony Incident On Spirit Of Tasmania
Former Australian polo captain pleads guilty to charges arising from pony incident on Spirit of Tasmania. A former Australian polo captain has pleaded guilty to placing more than a dozen polo ponies at risk of suffocation and asphyxiation when he put them on the Spirit of Tasmania in 2018.
Of the total number of polo ponies, 16 of them perished while they were being transported.
- Andrew Williams entered a guilty plea to the charge of utilizing a transit method that was reasonably expected to result in excessive and unjustifiable pain and suffering to the horses, as well as to 16 counts of failing to guarantee that each horse was individually stabled.
- The judge will hand down a sentence for him at a later time.
- TT-Line, the company that operates the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, is also facing comparable charges.
In January of 2018, Andrew Williams was transporting the ponies from a polo tournament in northern Tasmania’s Barnbougle to his home in New South Wales.
Mr. Williams found 16 dead ponies and two others struggling for life when he opened the trailer in Yarra Glen, Victoria.
The ponies’ deaths occurred somewhere between when they boarded the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport and when they disembarked an hour later at Yarra Glen, located north of Melbourne.
The guilty plea comes after four and a half years and several legal hearings.
Mr. Williams, the truck’s driver, pled guilty in the Burnie Magistrates Court today to 16 counts of failing to ensure the horses were individually stalled and using a transport mode reasonably expected to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and suffering.
A review of the evidence showed that Mr. Williams had used a trailer to carry the horses that had vents that were too small, too few, and too far apart to allow hot air to escape.
Not only did he not check on the horses for an entire hour after getting off the ferry, but he also used transportation and a trailer that made it difficult to keep an eye on them.
He also endangered the horses by cramming two into a stall.
All of this put the horses at risk of suffering from extreme heat stress and dying from suffocation in a small space.
Mr. Williams’ sentencing date has not yet been set, and this is not the first case related to the incident that has gone to court.
Ferry Operator Also Fronting Charges
The operator of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, TT-Line, is also being investigated for similar offenses.
It has been charged with one count of using a method of management that is reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and suffering, as well as 28 counts of failing to ensure that a horse was individually stalled. Each of these charges carries a potential sentence of up to one year in prison.
TT-Line has not changed its position and continues to assert that it is innocent; a hearing on the case is scheduled for the following month.
There are no criminal charges related to the death of the ponies being brought against TT-Line or Mr. Williams; however, there is a civil action that is centered on the question of who is accountable.
In 2018, Mr. Williams brought the lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Victoria against TT-Line and QUBE Ports, which is a freight operator.
He blamed the companies, saying that they were the ones who killed the ponies, while the companies said that he was to blame.
A hearing is scheduled to take place in March of the following year.