Spirit of Tasmania ferry operator TT-Line will face a court hearing over the deaths of 16 polo ponies after a last-minute bid to delay proceedings was rejected.
The horses were found dead inside a trailer following a sailing across Bass Strait from Tasmania to Melbourne in January 2018.
TT-Line’s legal team applied for an adjournment on Monday’s opening day of a slated three-week hearing in Burnie Magistrates Court.
The company has previously pleaded not guilty to using a method of management reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and suffering.
It has also pleaded not guilty to 28 counts of failing to ensure a horse was individually stalled.
Lawyer for TT-Line, Robert Taylor, argued his legal team needed more time to consider a veterinarian’s report provided to them by the prosecution on Friday afternoon.
The court was told the report relates to horse behaviour and the risks posed when horses are not individually stalled.
Magistrate Leanne Topfer rejected the application, partly on the basis TT-Line could explore such issues when their expert witnesses give evidence.
“I am satisfied there is not substantial new evidence which takes the defendant by surprise,” she said.
The hearing, which is expected to hear from several veterinary experts, continues on Tuesday.
The case has been plagued by delays since TT-Line was charged in 2019.
Former Australian polo captain Andrew Williams is awaiting sentencing in relation to the pony deaths after last month pleading guilty to 16 counts of failing to ensure a horse was individually stalled.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of using a method of management reasonably likely to result in unreasonable and unjustifiable pain and suffering.
His case was briefly mentioned on Monday and will return before the court on August 30.