Herald Sun (Australia), Jan. 23, 2003
By CHRISTOPHER SALTER
After a day of doorknocking the last thing Jehovah’s Witness Kenneth Hawthorn expected was to be attacked by one of God’s creatures.
But that is exactly what happened.
Despite a gate marked ‘private – keep out’, Mr Hawthorn entered a farm only to be confronted by a four-year-old ram.
He attempted to shoo it away with a briefcase containing Bibles but was knocked to the ground and suffered a broken shin.
In the South Australian District Court, Mr Hawthorn and his wife Pamela, of Tea Tree Gully, reached a confidential settlement with the ram’s owners for loss of earnings after the incident in July 2001.
The Hawthorns sued Ronald and Julie Goldfinch, of Paracombe, in the Adelaide hills. They claimed they were forced to sell their hose-fitting business as a result of the injuries Mr Hawthorn suffered.
They alleged the ram was a “dangerous and ferocious animal” and the Goldfinches were negligent for not keeping it confined and failing to warn visitors.
The Hawthorns also sued the Adelaide Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for failing to provide proper instructions about doorknocking in rural areas.
In the Hawthorns’ statement of claim, Mr Hawthorn, who was doorknocking with his daughter, said they opened a gate on the Goldfinch property and walked towards their house to “engage in biblical discussion”.
“As they did so a ram appeared and charged (Mr Hawthorn) to the ground and the ram continued the attack pushing him towards the fence,” the court documents said.
“At this time the defendants appeared and assisted (Mr Hawthorn) back into his car.
Mr Hawthorn claims he now is able to walk only small distances and “his capacity to enjoy life has permanently diminished”.
In their defence, the Goldfinches said the Hawthorns entered their property “uninvited, unwanted and without notice”.
They said their hand-reared pet ram had never attacked anyone before nor had it shown a “violent disposition”.
In its own defence, The Adelaide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses said doorknocking was voluntary and followers were not obliged to do it.
Mr Goldfinch said yesterday he was glad the case was over but disappointed with the result.
“We’re just totally disappointed that they should have got anything,” he said. “He walked into an area where he knew animals would have been, why should we pay.”
The ram, which was affectionately known as “S— for brains”, has since died.
The Hawthorns declined to comment.