Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Anne the elephant court case – Pre-trial hearing

Posted: 16 February 2012. Updated: 16 February 2012


Legal team of circus owners criticised by Magistrate for delays and failure to present defence

At today’s pre-trial hearing at Corby Magistrates Court, Northants, the legal team of circus owners Bobby and Moira Roberts was criticised by the Magistrate after again failing to submit all their defence statements. A third pre-trail hearing has now been set.

Bobby and Moira Roberts, owners of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, are charged with offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in relation to the mistreatment of “Anne” an elephant removed from the wild and sold to the circus. Animal Defenders International (ADI) had brought a private prosecution based on video evidence they filmed at the circus winter quarters. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are now taking the case forward.

At today’s hearing, the Magistrate noted that he “wasn’t impressed” that the defence had still not submitted any expert testimony and noted that the other defence statements had been a month late. Describing the statements that they had submitted as “bland” he indicated that he could see no reason why these had been so late. Consequently, he has time-limited the Roberts to produce their defence by March 22nd, with a third pre-trial hearing on March 30th.

The CPS asked if there had been any challenge to the veracity of the evidence collected by ADI. There has been no challenge. The Magistrate noted that he would take a “dim view” of it if a challenge were attempted during the actual trial.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, who was at today’s hearing said: “: “This will be the first trial of a circus under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which states that owners have a duty of care to protect their animals from harm and to provide a suitable environment. This will establish what animal circuses consider are appropriate husbandry practices and whether these are legal.”

The trial is scheduled for 18th June, 2012.


Media contact:
Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 07716 018250, 0207 630 3344,


ADI’s detailed investigation took place from 21st January to 15th February 2011.
The private prosecution was commenced by ADI on 18th July 2011 at Northampton Magistrates Court.

Given the public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed that the CPS take over and continue the legal proceedings against the Roberts.
Mr and Mrs Roberts have been jointly charged with the following offences:

1. Causing the elephant to suffer unnecessarily, by requiring the elephant to be chained to the ground at all times, contrary to section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006

2. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent their employee from causing unnecessary suffering to the elephant, by repeatedly beating it, contrary to section 4(2) of the same Act

3. Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that the needs of the elephant were met to the extent required by good practice, contrary to section 9 of the same Act

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.


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