20 Jul 2012

SPCA says dog killers should have got jail

8:54 pm on 20 July 2012

The SPCA says two men who took part in the slaughter of 33 dogs and puppies at a Wellsford property should have been imprisoned.

Tony Campbell and associate Russell Mendoza were convicted in May of five charges, including one for recklessly discharging a firearm.

The pair shot the animals at the rural property in January 2010 because they believed one or more had mauled Mendoza's fox terrier.

At the Auckland District Court on Friday, Campbell was sentenced to six months' home detention, 300 hours' community work and ordered to pay $4775 reparation.

Mendoza was sentenced to six months' community detention, 300 hours' community work and the same amount in reparation.

The prosecution had asked for a 15-month sentence for each man.

The sentences also mean they have not been banned from owning dogs.

Outside the court, the lead SPCA inspector involved in the case, Vicki Boarder, said she was disappointed in the sentence.

SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge says he has never seen such carnage, and the sentences are not a sufficient deterrent to others.

He says the men's actions were bloodthirsty and inhumane, and totally unacceptable.

Mr Kerridge says he is very disappointed by the sentences and the public is also likely to be unhappy.

Judge labels actions a massacre

During sentencing, Judge Mary Beth Sharp said the dogs died cruel and painful deaths and the men's actions were callous and reckless.

She said it was a miracle no people were hurt during what she called a massacre.

During the trial, the judge described the shootings as a sordid affair and rejected much of Campbell's evidence, calling some of it ridiculous.

She said Campbell was acting as a gun-happy cowboy who embarked on a reckless massacre.

In Campbell's defence, his lawyer said the professional hunter did not believe the shooting would be a cruel death for the animals, and that his actions were entirely out of character.

Sentence a joke - dogs' owner

The owner of the dogs, Rowan Hargreaves, watched as the pair shot them.

He says the sentence is a total joke, and makes a laughing stock of the justice system.

Mr Hargreaves also believes the police and the SPCA will be embarrassed by the outcome.

He told Checkpoint the two-and-a-half years since his dogs were killed have been incredibly difficult for him, with the sentencing as much of an ordeal as the day his dogs were killed.