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Charges dropped in puppy shooting case

Accused puppy killer Cody Wellard leaves Campbell River provincial court on Monday, Feb. 14. - Paul Rudan
Accused puppy killer Cody Wellard leaves Campbell River provincial court on Monday, Feb. 14.
— image credit: Paul Rudan

A Quadra Island man whose puppy was shot in the head and killed says there shouldn't be a time limit for violent crime trials.

Nick Rose was astounded Wednesday when a judge dropped the charges against Cody Wellard, due to a lengthy delay in the case proceeding to trial.

"Charges this serious shouldn't be thrown out, no matter how long the delay," Rose said following the decision. "It's pretty upsetting. We're getting a first-hand look at our legal system and it's pretty pathetic."

Wellard wasn't in Campbell River provincial court when Judge Peter Doherty issued a stay of proceedings on charges of killing an animal and careless use of a firearm. The 33-year-old had pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Wellard was in court Monday with his lawyer during the application hearing to have the charges dropped. Defence lawyer James Hormoth said his client lost his job, faced threats and intimidation, and was penalized financially due to charges and the ongoing delays. And the judge agreed.

"I'm satisfied he has suffered prejudice," Judge Doherty said Wednesday morning as he delivered his ruling.

The judge also blamed the delays on a shortage of judges for the North Island region. He said the case – slated for a two-day trial – wasn't particularly complicated and the Crown did everything it could to have it proceed to trial.

Judge Doherty also noted there has been a series of recent delay applications in Campbell River and charges in those cases were also dropped due to a lack of judges to preside over trials.

"The failure to have a judge appointed has caused scheduling problems in a number of cases," said Judge Doherty, who stayed the charges against Wellard based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

But that was of little comfort to Rose and his family. On the day of the alleged offence, Sept. 13, 2008, Rose and his 12-year-old son Max, who had been battling cancer, where outside chopping wood when their Jack Russell pup Seymour ran down the driveway as two hunters were passing by. A moment later, father and son heard a gunshot.

They ran towards the sound and found Seymour dying from a shot to his head. The gruesome aftermath was witnessed by Rose's two children who were traumatized by the ordeal.

"Max ran inside and grabbed scissors…he wanted to go after them," Rose recalled. "I told him 'no, let the police deal with this'…and my daughter was terrified, she wondered if they were going to come back. And I'm sleeping with a two-by-four by my bed."

According to police reports, Wellard left Quadra Island after the shooting and turned himself in three days later at the Westshore RCMP detachment near Victoria. He told officers the shooting was an accident.

Rose is now considering filing a lawsuit against Wellard, because he has no other options.

"This has been very frustrating and upsetting…and the victims of crime shouldn't have to suffer because of staffing in the court," he said.

E-mail paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

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