Twist in three-year fight over ‘dangerous’ dogs
A THREE-year fight between a Tamaree woman and Gympie Regional Council over two allegedly dangerous dogs has taken a twist, with a 2018 decision against the owner overturned because the hearing was unfair to the owner.
Kate Mitchell's dogs were declared dangerous by the council in 2017 after they allegedly escaped her property and attacked another dog.
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They were marked for destruction by the council later in the year.
Ms Mitchell appealed the council's decisions to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, claiming the dogs did not attack the other dog but only discovered its body.
The appeal was denied.
However that decision itself has now been thrown out by QCAT on the grounds Ms Mitchell was denied legal fairness at the February 9 hearing.
The tribunal heard Ms Mitchell was left scrambling for legal representation after discovering only that morning the council was engaging its own lawyer - a decision itself made late in the proceedings.
The council advised Ms Mitchell of this by email and in post on February 7.
The email bounced back, and had to be resent the night before the hearing.
The timing did not sit well with Ms Mitchell.
"Why leave it so late and give me no opportunity to see what else I need to do?" she asked on the morning of February 9.
She was allowed to seek representation for herself, but the hearing was not adjourned.
This left her unable to examine or cross-examine witnesses on the day - a decision the new tribunal found "legally unreasonable because it lacks 'an evident and intelligible justification'."
"The learned member erred by hearing the application in circumstances where there was an inherent unfairness between the parties to the significant disadvantage of the applicant".
As a result the tribunal overturned the decision and it will be heard again by a new tribunal.