Martin Wheeler mourns for the loss of his dog. Here he sits with some of his other dogs (the dog on the left was the dead dog’s mother).
Martin Wheeler mourns for the loss of his dog. Here he sits with some of his other dogs (the dog on the left was the dead dog’s mother). FILE

Tribunal rules against council

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council has failed in its attempt to make a man pay almost $18,000 to cover the costs associated with the seizure and destruction of his dogs.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed the council's application to make Martin Wheeler, of Rockhampton, pay a $17,900 bill made up of retention, seizure, labour and veterinary costs.

One of the dogs was accused of attacking a woman on Horton St, Rockhampton, in September 2009 and the other was seized under the belief that it could not be contained by its owner.

A third dog that was involved in the Horton St attack was put down in 2009.

Tribunal member Paul Favell also criticised council for destroying two of the dogs “well before the expiration of the appeal period”.

The tribunal had previously handed down a decision that these dogs be destroyed on December 24 last year.

Mr Wheeler had 28 days to appeal this decision, but the dogs were put down just 11 days later.

“It is extraordinary that the council, when they should have known that the legislation provided for an appeal period, would euthanase the dogs so that any appeal, if it were to be lodged, would be meaningless,” Mr Favell said.

The council's solicitors sought to justify their decision in correspondence earlier this year, saying decision papers provided by the tribunal did not make any reference to an appeal period.

The correspondence said council believed it had “satisfactorily dealt” with the situation.

Mr Favell considered whether the council's actions amounted to contempt but outlined that as he was not a judicial member of the tribunal he could not exercise any decisions in relation to this.

“Arguably the conduct of the council here could amount to conduct which would prevent a litigant from having his case tried (appeal heard), ‘free from all matter of prejudice',” Mr Favell said.

“Obviously here, the conduct may be argued to be such as to prevent, in a practical sense, Mr Wheeler from exercising any right of appeal he may have.”

The tribunal dismissed the application for Mr Wheeler to pay the costs.

A spokesman for Rockhampton Regional Council yesterday said the council would abide by the tribunal's ruling, but did not make further comment.



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