The trial of two former Angus farmers accused of causing 269 animals unnecessary suffering will proceed after more than 30 months of legal wrangling.
George and Allison Pattullo of Middle Coul Farm, Lintrathen, are accused of failing to seek veterinary attention for 19 cows and 250 sheep at the former G&A Pattullo farm near Kirriemuir between December 1 2012 and April 25 2013.
It is alleged the animals required veterinary attention for liver fluke, parasitic gastroenteritis and lice infestation and were lame from foot rot, with a high mortality rate among the population.
A criminal case against the couple has been put off at least five times over the availability of legal aid and confusion over whether the tenant farmers or their former business were being prosecuted.
But defence agents for both accused have confirmed an expert will give evidence at the impending trial.
Solicitor for Mr Pattullo, Brian Bell, said fresh evidence regarding autopsies of some animals had only been made available by the Crown this week.
He made a motion for the Crown case to be deserted under the Scots law principle of oppression, where it can be argued a continuing prosecution is unfair to accused, due to the long process of the case.
“This has been hanging over them for some time now,” he added.
Sheriff Gregor Murray refused the motion but granted a secondary defence motion for the trial diet to be postponed to next month.
“In the interests of fairness it is only right that the defence expert have some time to look at the new evidence before the trial,” he added.
Depute fiscal Robbie Brown described the case as “very old” but opposed a further delay, on the basis that the defence had already applied to adjourn a number of times.
A notional trial diet was fixed for next month, and George Pattullo, 65, and Allison Pattullo, 60, were ordered to appear.