Belfast Telegraph

Puppy found dead in bin after ‘appalling’ attack, court told

By Alan Erwin

The remains of an 11-week-old puppy were found in a bin following an alleged hammer attack at a drink and drug-fuelled house party, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors said the pet, named Sparky, suffered severe brain trauma, with tests ongoing to establish if it had also been put in a microwave.

Details emerged as a 23-year-old man accused of inflicting the fatal injuries in Lurgan, Co Armagh, mounted an application for bail.

Kyle Keegan, a scaffolder from Gilpins Manor in the town, is charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on February 3. Two days later police went to the scene of the alleged killing, a flat in Ailsbury Park, after being alerted to concerns about the dog.

When officers arrived, a woman who lives at the address revealed was just about to contact them as her puppy, Sparky, had been found in a bin, the court heard. The animal's remains were seized along with a blood-spattered t-shirt said to belong to Keegan.

A bloodstained hammer which had allegedly been hidden behind a kitchen appliance was also taken for further examination. Crown lawyer Conor Maguire set out how the investigation developed when a 16-year-old youth went to police expressing fear for his safety due to social media posts linking him to the incident. He was arrested, questioned and bailed pending further inquiries.

During interviews the youth claimed he had heard a loud noise while at the flat on the day of the alleged attack, the court heard. "He said he went out to the hallway and saw the applicant (Keegan) with a hammer in his hand and it had blood on it," Mr Maguire submitted. He said he walked away but he heard more bangs and he heard a pup yelp. He said he did not confront the applicant about it and left soon after."

Keegan also went to Lurgan PSNI station, stating during interviews that he had attended a party at the address. He confirmed the T-shirt belonged to him but offered no explanation for the apparent blood stains, the court was told. Mr Maguire contended that a number of people had been at the flat between February 2-3.

"It's believed drink and drugs were consumed at the party," he said. In a statement, the flat's owner said both Keegan and the 16-year-old youth were present when she left for a period on February 3. At that stage, according to her account, Sparky was in a cage in the hallway. She claimed a friend then phoned her later that day to say the puppy had run away.

"When she returned to the flat the applicant, the 16-year-old and a third male told her Sparky had got out," Mr Maguire continued. The woman then allegedly located the bloodied hammer and T-shirt, and found her pet in a bin. Post-mortem results confirmed the puppy had sustained a number of fractures and severe brain trauma. Crown counsel also disclosed: "A histological examination of the tissues is outstanding to ascertain if Sparky was placed in a microwave."

Forensic tests are being carried out on blood on the hammer and T-shirt for comparison with a sample taken from the animal.

Opposing bail, Mr Maguire argued: "It appears the applicant had attended at a party at which drink and drugs were consumed and, on the prosecution case he did serious harm to a defenceless young dog." It was also claimed that Keegan could face a general threat in the Lurgan area.

Barry McKenna, defending, acknowledged the alleged offence was "appalling". But he insisted there was no evidence connecting the blood on his client's T-shirt to the puppy.

He also questioned the reliability of the 16-year-old's account. Referring to Keegan's activities at the time of the alleged attack, counsel added: "He was drinking heavily, he accepts that, (and) he has little to no recollection of the weekend."

He confirmed, however, that no bail address was available outside Lurgan.

Adjourning the application, Mrs Justice Keegan said issues about any perceived risk in the community, mental health and alcohol still need to be resolved.

Belfast Telegraph

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