by BETTER FARMING STAFF
He strode confidently into the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener wearing a light grey blazer, teal shirt, blue tie and beige trousers and glared at a Better Farming reporter. Two hours later, Arlan Galbraith’s court appearance on Monday would prove as colourful as his entrance.
The former, self-described Pigeon King told Justice G. Hearn, that he planned to represent himself, throwing the Crown’s case against him into limbo for another three weeks. Galbraith was charged with fraud over $5,000 and three offenses under the Bankruptcy Act in December of 2010. None of the charges has been proven in court.
Galbraith’s lawyer, Paul Williams, cited a “breakdown” in the relationship with his client.
The Justice set March 19 as the date for a return to court and noted that he was giving Galbraith three weeks to review his options and his decision to represent himself. At that point, if Galbraith still wanted to proceed, they would hold a preliminary inquiry, he said.
Justice Hearn advised Galbraith to retain counsel, calling the case against him “a serious matter,” that would put him in jeopardy.
“I believe it would take too long to acquaint a new counsel with the case,” Galbraith replied when the Justice asked repeatedly if he was sure wanted to represent himself, noting there were 600,000 pages of material to review.
“I want to go to trial your honour,” Galbraith said in a quiet, respectful tone. “I want a jury trial. I want a preliminary.”
Following Galbraith’s appearance Lynn Robinson, assistant crown attorney, told Better Farming that Williams will remain Galbraith’s lawyer until Justice Hearn decides whether to release him from the commitment. But in the meantime, she confirmed the case is at a stalemate until the next court appearance.
If Galbraith does represent himself in a trial, “I have to redesign my whole approach,” Robinson said. It is a lot harder for someone without legal training and experience to aim at specific issues, she said.
Williams “had done a heck of a lot of work,” she said.
Williams, a Kitchener criminal lawyer, is a former RCMP sergeant who headed the Kitchener detachment’s commercial crime unit and was involved in a $3 million drug bust in Cambridge.
Photo: Galbraith leaves court Monday Feb. 27 2012.
“I’m not interested in talking to you, you know that,” Galbraith said when approached by a Better Farming reporter before his court appearance.
After the appearance, Galbraith left the building quickly and climbed into a Murano SUV in a parking lot nearby. He had told the Judge that it takes him 10 hours to drive from his home near Cochrane in northern Ontario.
Previously, Galbraith and Pigeon King International did millions of dollars in business annually selling high-priced pigeon pairs to more than 1,000 growers in Canada and the United States and bought back their offspring. Growers, many of whom were Amish or Mennonite farmers, contracted either personally with Galbraith or his company. Pigeon King International grew at a time when farmers, particularly smaller operators, were facing hard times across North America because of low commodity prices.
Galbraith, who always insisted his company, Pigeon King International, was debt free, handed it to a bankruptcy trustee in June 2008. Creditors petitioned him into personal bankruptcy in 2009. Galbraith’s house and property in Cochrane were seized and subsequently sold.
Despite doing millions of dollars in business annually in the last years of operation, Pigeon King International’s assets at bankruptcy totaled less than $100,000. BF
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