A Coleraine man who kicked and injured his pet pup in a “cowardly” attack has been banned from keeping dogs for ten years and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work “so that every time he picks up a piece of litter or paints a wall” he remember his crime.
Anthony O’Hara (21), of Killowen Street, has also been put on Probation for 18 months after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to the dog and possessing cannabis.
A prosecutor told Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday that on July 20 this year a heavily pregnant neighbour said O’Hara had been kicking a bin and then gave her the “middle finger” and swore at her.
The woman locked her door and put an ironing board across it in case O’Hara would try to get in and the defendant was again verbally abusive to her and she feared that he was “going to stab” her. A charge of common assault was withdrawn.
The woman then heard the defendant’s dog yelping for ten to 15 minutes and it stopped following “a very loud thud”.
Fearing for the safety of the dog the woman called police who found the dog bleeding from the nose.
There was also a strong smell of cannabis in O’Hara’s home and £20 of the drug was seized.
The prosecutor said the dog was taken to a vet and had trauma to an eye; a haemorrhage to its mouth; was withdrawn and nervous; and was underweight for its age.
When interviewed by police O’Hara said he had no recollection of the events with the neighbour.
He said the dog had a “bloodshot” eye as he was out jogging with this pet and a lead caught around a lamp post.
Regarding the other injury he admitted to police he must have “clipped the dog too hard when he barked”.
He said he was feeding the dog but it was under-weight because of “worms”.
Defence barrister Ben Thompson said the dog has now been re-homed to live with a friend of O’Hara’s.
The lawyer said there was “no one more upset or ashamed” of what he had done to the dog than the defendant.
His client, he said, had been living a chaotic lifestyle at the time and his behaviour was “extremely erratic” because of substance misuse which involved “risk taking” amid a relationship with alcohol.
The defendant, who had a record, works for a manufacturing company but Mr Thompson said the offences happened when he had been at his “absolute lowest ebb”.
He said a “thoroughly ashamed” O’Hara had not breached any bail conditions which had involved an alcohol condition.
Mr Thompson added: “He knows how this case will change the public perception of him” and that there would be “consequences”.
District Judge Liam McNally said the defendant had committed a “cowardly act of kicking a dog” and causing injury and said it was well-known courts treated that type of offence seriously.
The judge said he could jail O’Hara for four months but felt a better way of ensuring there was no repeat was to put him on Probation for 18 months to engage with whatever is asked.
He also ordered him to do 100 hours of unpaid work “so that every time you pick up a piece of litter or paint a wall you will remember that you are doing it because you kicked a dog”.
He also banned O’Hara from having the pet, or any dog, for the next ten years.
Judge McNally told the defendant if there were any slip-ups he would be re-sentenced to four months in jail.