WA animal activist fronts court

James Warden outside Perth Magistrates Court. Picture: Anton La Macchia
James Warden outside Perth Magistrates Court. Picture: Anton La Macchia

A VEGAN activist accused of being the ringleader behind the theft of a $1500 calf and a dead piglet from farms near Mandurah is likely to spend at least one night in prison until his bail paperwork is completed.

James Warden, from the group Direct Action Everywhere, faced Perth Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with three counts of trespassing, and two counts each of stealing and aggravated burglary.

The 25-year-old has several co-accused ranging in age from 21 to 36.

Police previously said all the crimes happened between August and February at properties in Nambeelup, Hopeland, West Pinjarra, Benger and Mundijong.

The calf was allegedly taken to an animal rescue farm in Waroona but was later returned in good health to its owners.

Warden last week faced court in his home state of NSW, where he was visiting family and was granted bail on the condition he appears in Perth on the new offences.

The police prosecutor on Wednesday said Warden was a flight risk.

But Warden’s lawyer Marilyn Loveday said he had lost his passport a couple of years ago and did not know police wanted to speak to him when he travelled to NSW.

“There was no reason for him not to go home,” she said.

Ms Loveday said as soon as Warden was required to return to Perth, he did.

She described the bail conditions as draconian.

She also rejected the suggestion Warden was the ringleader.

“These are likeminded people but there’s no ringleader,” she said.

“These are his friends.”

The court heard the investigation was ongoing and there was a possibility of further charges.

Magistrate Joe Randazzo said it was a strong prosecution case and ruled Warden’s bail conditions should include a $10,000 personal undertaking and $5000 surety.

Warden also cannot possess a passport, must report weekly to police and stay away from farms.

“You are dicing with your freedom,” Mr Randazzo said.

But Warden’s sister, who previously provided his surety, was already on her way to the airport to return to NSW when the magistrate made his determination.

It means Warden will likely spend at least one night in prison until the paperwork is completed.

Warden is scheduled to face Mandurah Magistrates Court on May 3.

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