Circus boss found guilty of cruelty to elephant

Anne the elephant, by Animal Defenders International
Anne the elephant, by Animal Defenders International

A circus owner was found guilty today of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Anne the Asian elephant.

Bobby Roberts was also convicted at Northampton Crown Court of failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating the animal.

Bobby and Moira Roberts

Bobby and Moira Roberts

The 69-year-old, who ran Super Circus in Polebrook, Cambridgeshire, also failed to ensure the elephant’s needs were met by not giving her medication for her arthritis.

His wife Moira, 75, was cleared of all three charges by District Judge David Chinnery following a five-day trial.

Roberts, 69, was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to Anne, a 58-year-old Asian elephant. Claire Howell, for Bobby Roberts, said: “He’s a broken man. This case has ruined him, his reputation and his life.”

Roberts was sentenced to a three year conditional discharge, but no order was made for costs and no ban imposed on him keeping animals in future.

Sentencing him, District Judge David Chinnery said: “I make it plain these offences do not represent the normal care of animals under your care.”

Roberts had denied the allegations throughout the week-long trial, telling the court he had no knowledge of the behaviour towards the 58-year-old Asian elephant.

Roberts and his wife, from Oundle, had denied causing unnecessary suffering and failing to prevent an employee from repeatedly beating Anne.

The court was shown footage filmed secretly by animal welfare group Animal Defenders International (ADI) of the animal being kicked and struck with a pitchfork several times by the groom at the circus’s winter quarters in Polebrook last year.

The footage, filmed between January 21 and February 15, 2011, also showed Anne constantly chained to the ground.

The legs of the animal - who the prosecution alleged was not receiving medication for its arthritis - could also be seen to buckle several times in the footage.

District judge David Chinnery’s judgement in full