Pony pony case: Andrew Williams suffers head injury in horse fall

The man driving the truck in which 16 polo ponies were found dead in 2018 has suffered a serious head injury. 

Andrew Williams pleaded guilty in the Burnie Magistrates Court in July to 17 breaches of the Animal Welfare Act in relation to the horse deaths, and the case was listed for a mention before Magistrate Leanne Topfer on Thursday afternoon.

Ms Topfer had also listed for a mention the matter of the charges against TT-Line, which pleaded not guilty to 29 breaches of the animal welfare act relating to the deaths and went to a hearing across three weeks in August.

The magistrate said she was not yet ready to deliver her decision, her verdicts on the charges, in the case as yet, and adjourned the matter for another month.

Williams’ matter was also further adjourned to that date for sentencing submissions, as it has been indicated the parties will need to reflect on the decision against TT-Line before proceeding.

However, lawyer Stuart Wright told the court that it may be Williams is not able to attend the Burnie court in person on that day as he is currently unable to fly. 

TT Line’s lawyers leaving the Burnie Magistrates Court on August 24, which was the final day of the three week hearing into the deaths of 16 polo ponies. The company pleaded not guilty to 29 charges. Picture by Brodie Weeding

Mr Wright said the former Australian polo captain fell off his horse about two weeks and had suffered serious head injuries, including “three bleeds on the brain”. 

Despite the seriousness of the injury, the lawyer said Williams was “alright” and more would be known about his condition following assessment on October 15.

Ms Topfer accepted Mr Wright’s comments, gave leave for parties to appear via video link, and adjourned the matters to October 27. 

The magistrate had foreshadowed at the end of the hearing in August that she may not yet be in a position to hand down her decision on September 29.

A three-week hearing is unusually long, and the case had already been before the courts for more than four years when it began on August 11. 

TT-Line’s lawyers, led by barrister Robert Taylor, have appealed aspects of the case to the Supreme Court and applied for special leave to appeal to the High Court, though they were denied. 

It appears the state-owned company has spent millions of dollars engaging the team of lawyers to defend it against the charges.

Even if Ms Topfer does deliver her decision next month, the matter will continue as there are ongoing Supreme Court appeals, and a civil dispute between Mr Williams and TT-Line.

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