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Abbotsford hog-farm protesters appeal break-and-enter convictions

Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer were previously sentenced to 30 days in jail
Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer spoke outside the Abbotsford Law Courts prior to sentencing on Oct. 12, 2022. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

Two people who participated in a 2019 protest at an Abbotsford hog farm have filed an application to appeal their break-and-enter convictions.

Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer of Kelowna were each sentenced last October to 30 days in jail and one year of probation. They were granted bail pending the appeal.

A press release states that their appeal application was filed Wednesday (April 26) on the basis that the trial judge erred when he wouldn’t allow the jury to see video footage obtained from hidden cameras placed on the Excelsior Hog Farm on Harris Road. The cameras had been placed by members of the Meat the Victims group, to which Soranno and Schafer belonged.

“Furthermore, Justice Verhoeven prevented Soranno and Schafer from arguing that the hog farm had engaged in unlawful animal abuse, eliminating any possibility of arguing that Soranno and Schafer believed their actions to be lawful,” the press release states.

RELATED: Two Abbotsford hog-farm protesters sentenced to 30 days in jail

They allege that the judge also “incorrectly admitted prejudicial testimony from a veterinarian who claimed that the activists had violated biosecurity protections despite no evidence that this had occurred.”

Soranno and Schafer also refer to evidence presented at their trial that SD cards from the cameras on the hog farm “mysteriously went missing while in police custody.”

“Then, in August 2019, for no apparent reason, the Abbotsford police ordered the destruction of all three cameras the activists were accused of planting in the hog farm,” the press release states.

Soranno and Schafer also argue that they were prevented from using the necessity defence, which would have allowed them to argue that their actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm occurring to the animals.

The pair were among about 50 people who entered the Excelsior Hog Farm property on April 28, 2019 and broke into a pig barn. Approximately another people lined the road in front of the property.

RELATED: Crown says 3 accused placed hidden cameras on Abbotsford hog farm weeks before protest

Four people were charged with a total of more than 20 offences following the event, leading to them calling themselves the “Excelsior 4.” Roy Sasano also went on trial but was acquitted.

Geoff Regier had his charges dropped before trial.

Soranno and Schafer were each convicted and sentenced on a charge of break-and-enter. They also each had a mischief charge, which was stayed at sentencing.

A date has not yet been set for a hearing to determine whether the appeal will be granted and a new trial ordered.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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