Charges in a long-running case over the abduction of prized sheep from an Ontario farm were stayed this week, after a judge found there had been unreasonable delays in bringing the matter to trial.
The development ends a slow-grinding legal ordeal for an Ontario sheep breeder and a dairy farmer, unless the Crown decides to appeal.
Linda “Montana” Jones and Michael Schmidt were charged following an investigation into the removal of 31 sheep from an Ontario farm in April 2, 2012, hours before the animals were to be euthanized.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had ordered the slaughter after a sheep sold by Jones to an Alberta farm allegedly tested positive in 2010 for scrapie, a deadly and easily transmitted disease that affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats.
A lawyer for Jones and Schmidt sought a stay of proceedings earlier this month, arguing the delay in bringing the case to trial was unreasonable.
The application was made in line with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year that concluded delays must not exceed 30 months in superior courts and 18 months for cases at the provincial level.