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US setting up animal abuse squad after Tyrone man Garrity’s pet torture case

By Claire McNeilly

A team of prosecutors is being set up in New York to deal with animal abusers after a case in which an Omagh man allegedly subjected his flatmate's cat to a litany of torture.

Declan Garrity (25) left the United States shortly after being charged with animal cruelty at New York's supreme court last year.

He is accused of ripping out the cat's claws, breaking bones in its face, pelvis and legs and burning it during a three-month period.

The financial analyst was sacked from his job in the New York headquarters of Barclays Bank after the sickening details of what the cat was subjected to were published in the city's three daily newspapers.

Garrity's high-profile case is one of a number cited as the reason for the establishment of the Big Apple's new task force and the Co Tyrone man will be re-arrested and tried for animal cruelty should he attempt to re-enter the US. He was due to attend court in April last year to be arraigned on charges that he repeatedly abused Lucy, an 8lb pet, in an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Garrity was also facing a charge of violating a protective order by returning to the apartment to retrieve his belongings without a police escort.

His non-appearance led to the judge revoking his $6,000 (£4,578) bail and issuing an arrest warrant.

At the time, the Co Tyrone man's lawyer told the court that Garrity had returned to Northern Ireland after being informed he risked arrest for immigration violations if he remained in the US.

It's understood that his former employers paid for Garrity's flight back to Belfast, with his work visa about to be invalidated due to his dismissal.

However, he would have been allowed to stay in New York because he was facing criminal charges which can carry sentences of up to four years in jail.

Garrity was first arrested in February 2016 after his female flatmate took Lucy to a local vet.

He diagnosed two right leg fractures, a fracture of the left pelvis, burns on several parts of the body, broken claws and broken teeth.

This resulted in the animal having to be fed through a tube.

Garrity, a Queen's University graduate, who had been working in America since 2014, claimed the injuries were a result of an iron falling on the animal.

A fundraising page set up for Lucy attracted $14,000 in donations from outraged animal lovers, and the feline has since made a full recovery. Garrity had no comment to make when our sister paper Sunday Life tracked him down to his parents' rural home outside Omagh last year.

The new animal protection squad will investigate cases referred to them by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the NYPD's Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad.

New York district attorney Cy Vance Jr said: "For many years, assistant district attorneys from different areas of my office have strongly investigated and prosecuted cases of animal abuse and cruelty.

"This formalised program streamlines our work and ensures that each case is overseen by an expert in the field."

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