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This article was published 2/10/2014 (2143 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Manitoba teen has admitted to his role in a bizarre cattle rustling that saw nine beefy members of a herd disappear under the cover of darkness.
The now 17-year-old boy, who can't be named because he is a youth, pleaded guilty Thursday under the Health of Animals Act for the October 2013 incident near Fisher Branch. He was given a $1,500 fine and ordered pay more than $700 in restitution as part of a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.
"I have to say this is one I've never seen," said provincial court Judge Michel Chartier.
The facts of the case are unique.
The owners of the cattle farm discovered the theft last fall during a routine check of their herd and contacted RCMP. Someone had damaged the fencing over the previous 48 hours.
One of the missing animals was a prized 4-H cow, court was told.
Police began interviewing nearby residents and learned a vehicle belonging to the accused's family had been spotted two nights earlier near the scene of the crime, with a cattle trailer in tow.
Days later, investigators were led to video surveillance from Winnipeg Livestock Sales that showed the teen accused appearing the morning after the suspected theft and selling nine cattle.
They were then auctioned off that same day to an Alberta-based company. In exchange, the teen was given a cheque in his name for more than $9,000.
The evidence quickly mounted against him. Not only was he on video, but police also checked the teen's school attendance records and learned he was absent on the day the cattle were sold in Winnipeg.
His arrest then triggered a race to find the cows before any were killed. Police learned eight had gone to a Manitoba processing plant, while a ninth cow -- suffering from an eye infection -- was already at an Alberta slaughterhouse.
The female owner of the cattle visited the Manitoba plant in person and was able to identify the eight by making a "sound" they all responded to, court was told. Those animals, which included the 4-H cow, were returned to her.
They were also sporting identification tags bearing the name of the youth's family farm, which he had placed on them prior to the auction.
The Alberta-bound cow with the bad eye, however, had already been killed.
This led to a $722 loss to the woman, which is why the teen was forced to pay restitution.
Defence lawyer Ryan Rolston told court Thursday his client was suckered into participating in the illegal plot while admitting the explanation sounded a bit "far-fetched." The teen claims he received an anonymous phone call from someone purporting to be the owner of the cattle, hiring him to pick up the cows and take them to the Winnipeg auction house for sale. The teen -- who was working in his family's farming business at the time -- complied. He said the man promised to get back in touch with him after the fact to pay him for the job.
"He's admittedly naive. He's not a particularly sophisticated individual," said Rolston. "He's either an individual who is extremely bad at being a criminal or legitimately believed what he was doing was legitimate at the end of the day."
Rolston said the crime has deeply impacted the boy and his family, which has been shunned by the community as a result.
"This young man has gone through a lot," said Rolston. "He was taught to earn an honest living in the cattle industry."
The teen will have one year to make the full fine and restitution payment.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
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