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Another Outback Victory for Salerno Law as Livestock Agent’s Cattle Rustling Charges dropped by the Western Australian DPP

Another Outback Victory for Salerno Law as Livestock Agent’s Cattle Rustling Charges dropped by the Western Australian DPP Daniel Leonard Wood, pictured, has had cattle rustling charges dropped after a two-year legal battle.  A well-known stock agent accused of being involved in the State’s most elaborate cattle rustling operation has had his charges dropped after a two-year legal battle. Daniel Leonard Wood was charged with money/property laundering after WA’s rural crime squad launched an investigation into the theft of about 800 cattle worth $803,000 from Mardie Station, in the Pilbara, in March 2021.  It was alleged Mr Wood — who pleaded not guilty to all charges and was due to stand trial in November — used his position as a Nutrien stock agent to sell the stolen cattle. In a statement released on Monday by Emma Salerno, Salerno CEO & Partner Lawyer representing Mr Wood, a spokeswoman said all charges against Mr Wood had been dropped. “Following a tumultuous two-year battle to defend Mr Wood’s innocence, the Director of Public Prosecutions has today formally discontinued the prosecution against him,” the statement said. “Mr Wood, co-owner of Great Western Livestock and Land, was charged with multiple criminal offences with WA Police accusing him of having sold stolen cattle." “Mr Wood, who does not have a criminal record and has never been on the wrong side of the law, was accused of being part of a so-called ‘criminal enterprise’ involving the stealing and laundering of cattle. “Mr Wood has always vehemently denied this harmful and costly accusation and he was grateful to Nutrien who stood in support of Mr Wood throughout the last two years.” The statement goes on to say that the accusations against Mr Wood “could not have been further from the truth” but “the damage has been done”. “Mr Wood has dedicated his whole life to the agricultural industry and has worked exceptionally hard to build his reputation as a dedicated and respected stock agent,” the spokeswoman said. The accusations were, and continue to be devastating to Mr Wood, his family, his business, and his livelihood. “The accusations were, and continue to be devastating to Mr Wood, his family, his business, and his livelihood. “Most concerningly, there was no evidence that Mr Wood received any financial advantage of being involved with the alleged criminal enterprise. “Mr Wood only received his usual commission for the sale of the allegedly stolen cattle, a sum of $2,389.48. “There was simply no motive or incentive for Mr Wood to be involved in any scheme to steal cattle, given that he was the elected cattle agent for most of the property owners in that region.” The DPP agreed to discontinue the prosecution against Mr Wood last week, with the decision formalised in the District Court on April 24. It comes after Mr Wood voluntarily provided a statement to WA Police and Salerno Law made detailed submissions to the DPP arguing the case against him “lacked sufficient evidence” and “had no reasonable prospects”. The [...]

2023-04-26T16:48:02+10:00April 26th, 2023|Agribusiness, Litigation|

RSPCA Found to Have Engaged in an Abuse of Power Following a Failed Criminal Prosecution

Salerno Law regularly provides legal advice to clients involved in both the agricultural and livestock industry. This includes providing advice in relation to regulatory issues, WorkCover prosecutions and criminal proceedings. On some occasions, these criminal proceedings involved charges relating to animal cruelty. In a recent landmark case, Salerno Law was instructed to act on behalf of a part-time dog breeder (the Accused) who was facing charges brought by the RSPCA. Following lengthy and protracted criminal proceedings, the Accused (with the assistance of Salerno Law) was successful in having the seventeen (17) charges preferred by the RSPCA dismissed in the Liverpool Local Court in their entirety. Furthermore, the RSPCA was ordered to pay all of the legal costs incurred by the dog breeder in the defence of the proceedings. The criminal proceedings, which began in 2019 and spanned almost two years, involved the seizing of twenty-six (26) dogs (including puppies from the Accused’s home by RSPCA officers). The Accused was operating a very small, but successful dog breeding business. The RSPCA alleged that under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW), the Accused failed to provide necessary veterinary treatment to the seized dogs. This was despite the Accused having records and veterinary evidence that all of the puppies had received all necessary veterinary treatment (including vaccinations and appropriate microchipping). The Accused denied all of the allegations, and Salerno Law were instructed to fully defend all of the charges. On multiple occasions, and from the time the dogs were seized, through correspondence with the RSPCA Salerno Law requested that the dogs be returned to the dog breeder. This being on the basis that the evidence produced by the RSPCA did not support the allegations made, the initial seizure of the dogs was unlawful and where the dog breeder had provided all necessary veterinary treatment to the seized dogs. Despite Salerno Law’s best efforts to encourage the RSPCA to discontinue the criminal charges preferred, the RSPCA remained determined in their position. This included refusing to return the seized dogs which included dogs that had been family pets for many years. Indeed, in the weeks prior to the hearing, the RSPCA issued the Accused with an invoice totalling more than $85,000 for its housing and veterinary treatment costs for the seized dogs. The RSPCA sought payment of the invoice from the Accused, a forfeiture order for all of the seized dogs, an order banning the Accused from being able to keep any animals and also a fine. Consequently, the matter proceeded to trial. On 7 May 2021, this matter was heard before Magistrate R Prowse in the Liverpool Local Court of NSW for a two (2) day trial. On the second day, his Honour agreed with the Accused’s submissions and found that the RSPCA engaged in an “abuse of power” in firstly entering the accused’s property without a warrant and thereafter seizing the dogs. Furthermore, it was found that the RSPCA had “No Prima Facie case” for any of the seventeen (17) [...]

2022-11-30T14:02:52+10:00September 1st, 2021|Agribusiness, Blog|

Class Action win against the WA State Government on Pastoral Rent Increase

Salerno Law recently represented members of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA) in a decidedly successful Class Action objecting to the Western Australian Valuer General (VG) 2019 pastoral rent assessment. The VG rent assessment had increased rents by more than 300% for some pastoralists. The class action objection, led by Salerno Law Managing Partner Emma Salerno, resulted in ALL objections being allowed and pastoral rents being decreased by up to 250% in some cases. Pastoral Rents in Western Australia are determined every five years by the Valuer General with rents based on a combination of factors. The factors include, but are not limited to, land values, the economic state of the pastoral industry and the rate of return. Salerno Law lodged objections on behalf 103 cattle stations and ALL objections were allowed, with significant impacts for the industry including: A reduction of the capitalisation rate from 2.8% to 1.8% A reduction of the average pastoral rent increase in the Kimberley from 325% to 104% A reduction of the average pastoral rent increase in the Pilbara from 91% to 10% A reduction in unimproved land value These significant rent reductions have massive economic flow on effects for the pastoralists. A reduction in unimproved values will result in a reduction in Shire rates and biosecurity levies payable. Salerno Law’s win for the pastoral industry also ensures the ongoing accountability of the State Government, in circumstances where government determinations can have disastrous economic impacts on industry. Sentiments within the industry are high following this result, and Salerno Law aim to assist members to increase certainty and clarity around the rent determination process. By Emma Salerno DISCLAIMER: This article is only meant to give you general information and should not be relied on as legal advice. Speak to one of our lawyers for more information. Salerno Law is managed by Emma Salerno, Managing Partner and CEO, who has a wealth of experience from operating her own businesses across Australia as well as a range of in-house and commercial experience both in Australia and overseas.

2022-07-05T11:24:25+10:00August 19th, 2021|Agribusiness, Blog|
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