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updated 19/10/01
Colgan case reaches the High Court

NEWFOUNDLAND BREEDER Mrs Phyllis Colgan was "deprived of her living" by a five year ban imposed by the Kennel Club in April 1999, which had "worldwide" ramifications, the High Court in London was told last Monday.

Due to reciprocal arrangements her ban was adopted in the United States where she now lives, "the ban is effective in the USA", the court was told.

Mrs Colgan of the well known Karazan prefix is claiming damages and attempting to obtain an injunction to overturn the ban which followed her conviction over dogs affected by heatstroke.

In May 1998 ten of her dogs died while being transported from her former home of Southgate Farm, Rushbrooke Lane, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk to her new home at Winster, near Matlock, Derbyshire.

She was given an absolute discharge in 1999 by Leicester Magistrates' Court and ordered to pay 2,000 costs.

She hired a 7.5 tonne box van vehicle for transportation.A combination of the heat and the roof turned the van into an 'oven', the heat of which overcame ten of her dogs aged between eight weeks and four years.

Outside temperatures of between 20 and 22 degrees centigrade were recorded but she had failed to notice the translucent roof which made the temperature roof inside the van between 40 and 100 degrees centigrade.

A stop after forty-five minutes found the dogs seemed fine. They were in crates, some stacked on top of each other.

Distressed

However, 45 minutes later, after another at Leicester Forest East service station, the animals were in a distressed condition and on the point of death from heat exhaustion.

Mrs Colgan, who had been driving behind the van and her son-in-law who was driving the van spent about an hour pouring water and ice over the dogs and moved those they could out onto the grass.

Eventually, the RSPCA, a vet, the police and fire brigade attended, but seven dogs died at the scene and three were taken to the vet's surgery where one died and two were later put down.

Mr James Goudie QC said the Kennel Club had no oral hearing (under Kennel Club rule A43) and there was no opportunity for Mrs Colgan to question some of the evidence including some newspaper articles which were in accurate.

He said "The upshot is she was deprived of her living until August 2004, which has worldwide ramifications because of reciprocal arrangements. The ban is effective in the USA and the effects go beyond the five years."

Mr Goudie said if the magistrates had imposed the maximum penalty "it could be regarded as a very serious case".

But they did not nor did the magistrates order a disqualification from keeping dogs although they had the power to do so, even so, Mrs Colgan did not have the opportunity to highlight these aspects to the Kennel Club and was unable to challenge some of the press reports.

"In the normal way a jury would be told to put press reports out of their minds but in this case, reports were circulated that were prejudicial and inaccurate.

"They said there was no ventilation - that was quite wrong. The roof was translucent, and not transparent."

The magistrates were "well aware" it was wrong to say there was no ventilation and they did not proceed on the wrong basis.

Banned

However, she was banned and as the five year ban goes on "the effects become more pronounced and continue beyond that."

He added "We're not seeking to go behind the conviction - we want not argue on the back of the penalty.

"Our challenge is under the Human Rights convention - there was no oral hearing, no representations and no right of appeal."

He told Mr Justice Cook "As you observed the core facts, basic facts, are not at issue - on the basis of the true facts you will come to the conclusion of disproportionality of penalty.