If you're new to this story click here for the story so far....
Here's the latest email from Jill, "I am trying to type this, but my hands are shaking, so I will try and get it right.
"We have not heard from Legal Aid yet. So when Peter turned up in court today, the bulldog [their solicitor] had faxed to ask for it to be put off, explaining that the legal aid had not yet been agreed, but the court didn't accept that, and forced Peter into making a plea, using the court solicitor. He obviously said 'Not Guilty'!
"The prosecuting solicitor was making the case, and it appeared to Peter that the only evidence they are going on is their "doggie id parade".
"Oh God, this really has gone beyond a joke now. If it wasn't for my babies, friends and family, I don't know how I would go on. The next court date is 3rd Dec, and the actual trial is set for 10/11th January 2008, so it drags on into next year.
"The case has been classified as one that carries a penalty of a maximum of £1,000 - obviously plus our solicitor's costs. If we lose this case then it goes to Civil Court, where the farmer can take us to the cleaners. Mind you, I don't know what he expects us to come up with when we have nothing to start with.
"On the good side, Jenni and Minki are settling in at home again. Minki is occasionally playing with the puppies, which is lovely to see, but Jenni is still very clingy and tends to isolate herself. I spent a lot of last night wandering around the house, as I couldn't sleep, with all the dogs following me. They are such great company, and just enforce the feeling that what the Police did to Jenni and Minki was so wrong."
I don't know about you, but this just all seems so dreadfully wrong. If the only thing the Prosecution has to link these two Poodles with the sheep is a doggie ID parade then I'm amazed it has got this far.
Judge John Deed would have had none of it. It's like doing an ID parade for humans and putting the two Chinese male suspects (which have been mentioned in press reports) in a line up of Aborigine women, Pakistani children, and assorted red-haired midgets and giants! It would hardly be surprising that the police got the right result! There are rules for human ID parades - people have to be of similar race, age and build. The doggie ID parade made up of collies, police dogs and pointers has to be seen by any sensible person as flawed!
And as the local press had already reported that two Poodles had worried sheep - putting the two Poodles in the same kennel and having all the others in single kennels would seem to have compromised the process from the outset!
Poor Jill and Peter - having this hanging over their heads all over Christmas. Peter is self-employed so proving income (or lack of it!) for legal aid is not straight forward.
They need legal support - I don't think they should go back in without proper representation. The cost prediction for their legal fees is £26k. If they lose and go to civil court the costs will spiral and they could face up to £60k in compensation and £8k in kenneling fees.
I feel helpless. What can we do to help them? I've already asked everyone to write to the charities to see if they'll help. Suggestions please! One of our rank is facing ruin - just because a herd of cows decided to get frisky and knock down their fence. Never have two dogs escaping got their owners into so much trouble.