A man has been found guilty of ill-treating a cat by putting it in a bag and throwing it under the wheels of a passing car to kill it.
Vincent Paul Fleming, unemployed, of Auckland, appeared in the Auckland District Court today charged with one count of willfully ill-treating an animal.
The case focussed on whether the cat, Tasman, was already dead - as Fleming contended - or was still alive when it was thrown under the car - as police alleged.
Fleming said he found the cat dead in his garden before he decided to put it on the road but Judge Heemi Taumanu rejected his evidence.
Constable James Montgomery told the court how he and his partner were called to an address in New Windsor, West Auckland about 6.15pm on January 15 where a woman told them she believed something had happened to a cat.
Initially, the officers went to look for the cat along the riverside. However after talking to Fleming, he led them to the cat in a rubbish bag in the bin, around 30 metres away.
"When I looked at it at the scene it had blood coming out of its mouth," Montgomery said. He said rigor mortis was yet to set in.
"The cat was quite floppy and very dead."
Constable Matthew Bunce interviewed Fleming, who told the officers he'd found the cat - which belonged to his flatmate - behind his house. He said he'd kicked it, but it didn't move so he put it in a bag.
When asked how he knew the cat was dead, Fleming replied, "its head was squashed and it was bleeding."
Bunce said Fleming also told him: "I chucked it under some cars to make sure it was dead. It was buggered, it was only once or twice."
When asked why he didn't take it to the vet, Fleming answered, "I thought it was beyond that... I didn't think about the vets... chucking it under some cars is the quickest way."
The officers arrested Fleming and took the cat to a vet clinic, where a vet examined it and confirmed it was dead.
In court, Fleming said the cat was already dead when he put it in the bag and on the road. "I'd put my hand on it and there was no heart beat."
It was still warm. Fleming believed it had been hit by a car and crawled behind the house to die. He admitted throwing it on the road was a "moment of stupidity", especially because at one point, the cat came out of the bag in view of some children.
"I wasn't thinking, that's the problem."
Fleming said he often looked after Tasman for his flatmate, and once before found it hurt and gave it to his flatmate to take to the vet, but in this case it wasn't applicable.
"Tasman was dead. I don't believe in cruelty to animals. If I thought there was a chance of life I would have taken him to a vet."
Judge Taumanu said there were "a number of fatal flaws" in Fleming's evidence.
He had told police putting the cat under the cars was "the quickest way to kill it".
The cat rolled out of the bag the first time he tried to throw it in front of a car and he put it back in for subsequent attempts.
The judge said Fleming's behaviour was "bizarre" and his account of the cat being already dead was "simply, inherently improbable".
He convicted Fleming of wilful ill-treatment of an animal.
Fleming was remanded on bail for sentencing on March 11.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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