A High Court judge has turned down an application to throw out charges against a man accused of bashing 23 seals to death near Kaikoura in 2010, but the charges could still be dismissed.
Jemaal Peter Roy Large, 37, of Wairau Valley is charged with wilfully ill-treating the 23 seals by clubbing them to death with a galvanised steel pipe at Ohau Pt on November 26, 2010.
In August, Blenheim District Court judge Tony Zohrab turned down an appeal ( Hooray Judge Zohrab ) by Large to have the charges against him thrown out on the grounds that he was legally hunting the seals. Large appealed to the High Court for a judicial review of the judge's decision, applying again to have the charges dismissed.
However, in a decision obtained by the Marlborough Express yesterday, Justice Joseph Williams dismissed the application saying he could not decide if Large was hunting or not and a judge would have to hear the Crown's case to decide whether the charge was valid.
In the decision made last month, Justice Williams said according to the law hunting included the pursuit of the hunted animal and it was not clear if Large's actions could be described as a pursuit "requiring skills ordinarily associated with hunting".
Twenty-three seals, including eight newborn pups, have been found clubbed to death on the Kaikoura coast.
Some of the pups killed were just a few days old. The dead seals also included 13 females and two bulls. Other live seals had injuries suggesting they had also been struck, the Department of Conservation (DoC) said.
New Zealand fur seals are protected by law and it is an offence to kill or harm them.