Dog killers get home detention
Two men who went on a shooting spree, killing 23 puppies and 10 adult dogs, have been sentenced to home detention but haven't been banned from owning dogs.
Russell Mendoza and Tony Campbell were sentenced in the Auckland District Court today on four counts of wilful ill-treatment and one of reckless use of a firearm.
The men were each sentenced to six months home detention, ordered to do 300 hours community work and pay $4775 to the SPCA.
The men killed the dogs at a rural property in Wellsford, north of Auckland, belonging to Rowan Hargreaves, in January 2010.
They shot the dogs – most of them in cages - during a 25-minute killing spree.
The shooting was sparked by a dispute between Hargreaves and Mendoza after accusations that one of his dogs had mauled and killed Mendoza's fox terrier.
Hargreaves lived with the dogs - which he described as his "family" - in a disused quarry. He had reluctantly agreed to the adult dogs being put down to keep the peace with his neighbours.
Mendoza's lawyer Joe Koppens told the court his client had received hate mail and had to shut his business following the shootings.
He said Mendoza was deeply remorseful and asked for a "merciful" sentence.
"His health has suffered, his marriage has suffered and he's sold his business in Wellsford following adverse reaction from the Wellsford community. He's received hate mail," Koppens said.
"He's not the sort of person who would want to cause suffering to an animal."
Crown prosecutor Joshua Shaw said there was sufficient evidence that the dogs were ill treated. He said it could be argued both men were equally culpable because while Campbell carried out most of the killings, it was Mendoza who "opened the door" for the offending to take place.
He asked for a sentence of 15 months and reparation to the SPCA.
Campbell's lawyer Nikki Porner asked for a community sentence, saying his home was appropriate for electronic monitoring.
"He's done something extremely foolish and wrong but it’s not a cause of conduct throughout his life. It's one incident."
Judge Mary-Beth Sharp said there were various aggravating factors to the offending, including the level and scale of violence, callousness and cruelty, premeditation on the behalf of Mendoza, the harm on Hargreaves, and level of recklessness displayed.
"Hargreaves' victim impact statement makes heavy reading," she said.
Judge Sharp said the sentence needed to deter other would-be animal abusers.
She also ordered the destruction of all firearms seized during the investigation.
No order was made to ban the men from owning dogs.
"Mr Mendoza, I don't doubt that you love dogs and I don't doubt the unfortunate series of circumstance that involved you in this offending."
- © Fairfax NZ News