A "cruel" Larne man who bludgeoned a young dog to death because of its barking was jailed for three months yesterday.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told Michael McAllister (51) at Ballymena Magistrates Court that to have caused the death of Marley the Chihuahua was a "terribly cruel thing to do".
He told McAllister that to have battered the young dog to death "out of some sense of frustration with it because it was barking is wholly unacceptable".
On the day his contest was due to start, McAllister, from Glynnview Avenue in the harbour town, entered guilty pleas to theft of a dog and causing unnecessary suffering to it on August 4 last year.
A prosecuting lawyer told the court how police were called to an address in Larne "over a report of a dog being killed". When they spoke to Marley's owner, she told them how McAllister had been in her flat "in an angry state".
"The dog was barking and he lifted the dog and left the flat," said the lawyer, adding that two witnesses contacted police to report they saw the defendant with the body of a "limp, dead dog".
They took Marley off him and gave him back to his distraught owner. The court heard that a post mortem exam determined the cause of death was due to a subdural haematoma caused by blunt force trauma.
According to Marley's owner, McAllister had declared "on numerous occasions... that he would choke the dog if it didn't stop barking".
After his arrest he refused to answer police questions and claimed to a probation officer that he had no recollection of what had happened.
Defence counsel Michael Smyth said that McAllister's late plea was because "he didn't want to admit that he had it in him" to kill a defenceless animal.
"He is remorseful in that he is ashamed of what he has done both to the dog and to his friendship," said the lawyer.
Jailing McAllister, Mr Broderick told him it was clear from the victim impact reports that Marley had given his owner "a great deal of comfort and friendship" and that he had no doubt "she has been emotionally traumatised at the death of her pet".
"You had no justification whatsoever for taking this dog away and killing it," said the judge. He told McAllister that despite his protestations of amnesia, "I have no doubt that you knew exactly what you were doing."
Although initially taken to the cells, following a defence application, McAllister was freed on £500 bail pending an appeal of the sentence.