Circus elephant trial dates set for June…

The trial has been fixed to take place in June of a pair of circus owners charged with the alleged abuse of Anne the elephant, following allegations from an animal welfare charity.

The trial is now set for June 18 to 22 it was announced at a pre-trial hearing at Corby Magistrates Court. The next review of the case will take place at Wellingborough on May 4.

Husband and wife Bobby and Moira Roberts, owners of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, are charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to the mistreatment of Anne an elephant that was removed from the wild and sold to the circus.

The CPS – Crown Prosecution Service – agreed last year to take on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts in relation to the alleged mistreatment of the elephant.

The case was originally brought as a private prosecution by the charity Animal Defenders International (ADI), an international animal welfare charity.

The charity, which advocates a complete ban on wild animals in circuses, produced video footage of the animal’s treatment via a surveillance camera installed in a barn in Polebrook, Northamptonshire where the elephant was based during the circus’ winter break.

ADI carried out an investigation into Anne’s welfare at the Roberts circus, in Peterborough during January and February 2011. The charity assembled a private prosecution based on the video evidence. The private prosecution commenced on July 18, 2011 at Northampton Magistrates Court.

The CPS was approached by legal representatives in the case and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, eventually agreed the CPS would take over and continue legal proceedings, partly as a result of the public outcry over the case.

Mr and Mrs Roberts, who are now entitled to a fair trial says the CPS, are jointly charged with causing the elephant to suffer unnecessarily by requiring the elephant to be chained to the ground at all times. Another charge is failure to take reasonable steps to prevent their employee from causing unnecessary suffering to the elephant by repeatedly beating it.

The couple are also charged with failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the elephant were met to the extent required by good practice. All the charges are issued contrary to sections from the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Anne is a female elephant, aged 58, originally from Sri Lanka that was sold to The Bobby Roberts Super Circus in the 1950s. Anne was subsequently transferred to Longleat Safari Park in April 2011 with the owners’ consent. The Longleat Safari Park runs the charity The Longleat Charitable Trust that also incorporates the Longleat Elephant Sanctuary Appeal