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'Utter disbelief' that man who violently killed his dog in Dublin park full of children avoids jail

The judge did not ban the man from keeping animals, as he 'didn't want to deprive the man's child of having a dog'

By Aoife Nic Ardghail and David Kearns

Published 29/07/2015

Witnesses said they saw Liam Dowling
Witnesses said they saw Liam Dowling "smash" the dog into the ground up to 30 times as he walked through the park

Animal welfare campaigners have expressed their “utter disbelief” after a man who violently killed his dog in a park full of children avoided a jail sentence.

Liam Dowling (44) was seen swinging his Jack Russell overhead by its lead and smashing it repeatedly into the ground as he walked through Clonliffe College Park in Dublin last year.

The father-of-one pleaded guilty to killing a protected animal at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and was given 200 hours of community service, on the grounds he is a suitable candidate.

The Dublin man claimed he could not afford vet bills for the sick dog.

Judge Martin Nolan, who did not bar the 44-year-old from keeping animals, said that “by any standard what happened to this poor dog was incredibly cruel” but noted that Mr Dowling was caring for a child and was a “contributing member of society.”

He said he would not impose a ban on Mr Dowling keeping animals, as he "didn't want to deprive the man's child of having a dog."

In a statement, the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said they had written to Director of Public Prosecutions requesting that the leniency of the sentence in the case be appealed.

“Our inspectors have seldom seen such blatant cruelty to an animal perpetrated in full view of children and parents in a public park,” they said.

“The DSPCA are calling for the full implementation of the penalties under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 in this brutal and horrific case of animal cruelty.

“Given that this animal was a family pet, we are also at a loss to understand why a lifetime ban on the ownership of animals has not been imposed on this individual.”

Witnesses said they saw Mr Dowling putting his foot on the dog's head while it was on the ground and pulling the lead tight.

They also said they saw him "smash" the dog into the ground up to 30 times as he walked through the park.

Garda Shane Mengessidis told the court that the 44-year-old was seen walking into some bushes with the dog and later re-emerging holding only the lead.

Mr Dowling told Gardaí at the scene that the dog had run off when he had taken it off its lead, but later admitted killing the pet.

A vet with the Dublin Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) found the dog had died from repeated blunt force trauma to its body.

Mr Dowling told the court the family’s dog of nine years had been sick for up to five months and he did not have the money to pay for vet bills.

He said he had tried to suffocate the pet in the field and denied knowing about an euthanasia procedure provided by the Irish Blue Cross.

“Sorry, I thought I was doing the right thing,” Mr Dowling said in an interview.

Gda Mengessidis agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that Mr Dowling had a drug problem and was on antidepressants at the time.

Mr Rea submitted to Judge Nolan that it was Dowling's initial intention to smother the dog but the antidepressants led to his “distorted behaviour.”

He asked the judge to take into consideration his client's early guilty plea, his co-operation and that he has no history of cruelty to animals.

Judge Nolan adjourned the matter until October pending a community service report.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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