Case of ducks before Court of Appeal

The owner of two ducks which were savaged by a dog has taken the case to the Court of Appeal more than five years after the incident.

Eugene Greendrake and his Pekin pets Drakie and Duckie (aka Missy) had a convoluted court history.

It began in August 2018 when the ducks were "freely and happily wandering together" at their rural Nightcaps property before a dog mauled them.

Drakie was found dead and Duckie recovered from her injuries after 12 days of veterinary care.

Mr Greendrake believed the culprit was his neighbour’s dog and brought a private prosecution against the owner, Wayne Alexander McConnochie.

But Judge Russell Walker dismissed the case following a judge-alone trial after he found there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations.

Mr McConnochie sought costs of $10,000 following the unsuccessful prosecution, which he was awarded.

In August, Mr Greendrake appealed that decision in the High Court "as a matter of principle".

Justice Rachel Dunningham allowed the appeal in part as she found Judge Walker did not follow the costs scales, despite them being "hopelessly out of date".

She said the case was brought in good faith and there were no procedural failings that would mean Mr Greendrake needed to be deterred.

Justice Dunningham awarded costs of $452 against Mr Greendrake for an application for leave to bring the criminal appeal.

But he was still not satisfied and took the issue to the Court of Appeal.

The duck owner said the High Court relied on the wrong principle when awarding its costs.

"Granting costs against an applicant just because the court finds the arguments meritless is penalising for lack of clairvoyance," Mr Greendrake argued.

The Court of Appeal said "we do not consider there was anything to justify an award of costs on the application for leave to bring the criminal appeal here".

It ruled that Mr Greendrake did not have to pay any costs.