A man accused of throwing a chicken known as Betty White into an alligator pen in front of shocked families at a popular NSW wildlife park has indicated he’ll plead not guilty to animal cruelty.
The case against Peter William Smith, 57, of Singleton, was briefly mentioned in Raymond Terrace local court on Monday.
High-profile defence lawyer Bryan Wrench said Smith, who was not in court, planned to plead not guilty to one count of aggravated animal cruelty.
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“This is an allegation about an alligator eating a chicken,” Wrench told Magistrate Justin Peach.
The defence lawyer said the alleged act described was like something out of a David Attenborough documentary.
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Peach ordered police to prepare the brief of evidence against Smith by March 4 and adjourned the case to March 18.
Court documents revealed police claimed Smith committed an act of aggravate cruelty on “a silkie bantam chook” between 2.57pm and 3.10pm on January 2 at the Oakvale Farm and Fauna World at Salt Ash.
Police had attended the wildlife park after reports the much-loved chicken known as Betty White had been snatched from an enclosure and thrown into the alligator pen.
In a statement released after the silkie hen was killed, Oakvale Farm owner Kent Sansom said management and staff had been deeply saddened by Betty White’s fate.
“This is the first time in our 43 years that we have had a member of the public (allegedly) engage in such cruelty in what is an animal sanctuary,” Sansom said.
“Betty White was hand-raised at the park and had played a crucial role in our endangered species breeding program for the bush stone curlew and other species by providing surrogacy to the chicks.
“Her quiet nature means she would not hesitate to approach a customer for some animal pellets, making her an easy target for (an alleged) ruthless perpetrator.”
Wrench refused to comment outside court on Monday.