R v. Pittman

In Fish Cases, Miscellaneous, Offences on (Updated )

This case involved a fish harvester who was charged with failing to comply with a term of his licence requiring his herring net to be set one fathom below the surface. At trial, a fishery guardian testified to finding the net in question attached to some buoys and floating less than one fathom below the surface. He also testified that one of the ropes was weaved through the net and "indicated that this would cause the net to float closer to the surface". He also agreed that "the location of the rope might suggest that someone had tampered with the net after it was set in the water."

The accused took the stand and gave evidence that the net was set at least one fathom below the water. He also testified that the the rope that the guardian observed weaved through the net was not placed there by him.

Applying the R. v. W. (D.) test, the court concluded that although it was possible that the accused negligently or purposefully shortened the ropes attaching the net to the buoys, the evidence of the accused caused it to have a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, an essential element of the offence was not proven and an acquittal was entered.