Teen on meth cuts family dog's throat

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:49 06/08/2014

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A 17-year-old was taking methamphetamine supplied by his mother's partner the night he cut the throat of the family dog.

Jake Michael Didham's mother is no longer with that partner, and he was not at the Christchurch District Court for the teenager's sentencing today.

Judge Paul Kellar told Didham: "It's a pity your mother's ex-partner is not before me for sentence on charges today."

He gave Didham a chance because of the circumstances, and ordered him to do 150 hours of community work.

The judge wondered whether a placement with the RSPCA would be appropriate for that community work, but then thought that work on the building refurbishment site at Rolleston would be a better idea.

He said Didham had been assessed as having a low-to-moderate risk of reoffending and there was now "hope for the future". When he is able, he may join a couple who have taken him under their care and provided a job, but who have now moved to Australia.

Defence counsel Bryan Green said there would be work available for Didham in Australia, once he reached there, but for the moment he was back living at his mother's house.

Didham has no recollection of the strange incident that took place on January 25, at a house in Linwood.

Judge Kellar said he had been drinking and using methamphetamine supplied by his mother's partner. Didham had been released there after a long period in Child, Youth, and Family care. It was an environment where "the brakes were off", the judge said. Substance abuse was accepted and actively encouraged by the ex-partner.

Didham and his mother went to a neighbouring property for drinks and he returned home alone. When his mother returned an hour later, she noticed the dog was missing.

When she asked Didham, he said: "I tried to kill her but she's run off."

The mother did not know what to make of that and went to bed. When she checked at 5.30am there was no sign of the dog but there was evidence of what looked like a shallow grave behind the garage.

She kicked Didham outside for a while and while he was shut out he kicked a hole in a fence. He was soon let back in.

About 10am, the mother noticed blood stains on the lounge carpet and in the driveway. She found the dog outside with cuts to its neck, head and body.

"I must say, judges and police see a number of very unpleasant matters in the course of their work, but the injuries to this dog can only be described as horrific and disturbing," said Judge Kellar.

The dog survived, but has now been rehoused. He ordered Didham to pay $591 to the RSPCA for the cost of the veterinary fees.

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He said that cruelty to animals was often an indicator of issues that would lead to more serious offending later on, but that did not seem to be the case for Didham.

He had completed courses on supervision, and completed an earlier community work sentence.

Didham had pleaded guilty to charges of ill-treating a dog by cutting its throat, and intentionally damaging a fence outside the house.

- The Press

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