British expat escape dolphin harassment conviction


Ralph Reece

A British expat who was charged with harassing dolphins near Cape Town has been found not guilty in a South Africa court.

Ralph Reece, 52, was cleared following a court trial, after being accused of the crime earlier in the year. He was accused of deliberately driving his boat into a gathering of hundreds of dolphins while sailing off the coast of Cape Town.

When he returned to shore he was chastised by a waiting crowd and subsequently arrested, dolphins are a much loved member of South Africa's wildlife and harassment or cruelty comes with a maximum punishment of two years in jail or £27,000 fine.

However in court Mr Reece was acquitted by the judge who said there was no evidence to show there was any harassment.

Mr Reece, who claimed he was unfairly persecuted by animal rights activists, lamented the case: “I can’t believe it even got this far. It was absolute rubbish from start to finish. By the time I’d got back to the harbour, people had gathered to see what was going on. Some people were shouting abuse and one said, ‘it’s people like you are ruining the Earth’. I’m not going to say I’m an animal rights person, but I’d never harm animals.

Mr Reece added that the case was a strain, despite the innocent verdict: “It has been quite stressful and I’ve spent a lot of money defending something which I didn’t do.”