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Court hears man banned from having a dog for ten years after ‘cowardly’ attack on his pet failed to complete unpaid work

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A Coleraine man who kicked and injured his pet dog in a “cowardly” attack and who was banned from keeping dogs for ten years failed to complete unpaid work he was required to do.

At the town’s Magistrates Court last October, Anthony O’Hara had been ordered to do 100 hours of Community Service.

A judge at the time said that would ensure “that every time he picks up a piece of litter or paints a wall” O’Hara would remember the cruelty.

The 21-year-old defendant, with an address listed as Killowen Street, had also been put on Probation last autumn for causing unnecessary suffering to the dog and possessing cannabis.

He was back at the court this week for failing to complete the 100 hours – he did 50 hours – and District Judge Peter King has now ordered him to do 120 more hours of unpaid work.

At last year’s court a prosecutor that on July 20 last 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 A charge of common assault had been withdrawn.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 worth 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The prosecutor said the dog was taken to a vet and had trauma to an eye; a haemorrhage to its mouth; was withdrawn and nervous; and was underweight for its age.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”.

A defence barrister told the court last year the dog had 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, worked for a manufacturing company but the barrister said the offences happened when O’Hara 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.

The lawyer added: “He knows how this case will change the public perception of him” and that there would be “consequences”.

At last year’s court, 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 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”.

The judge had also banned O’Hara from having the pet, or any dog, for ten years.

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