Staffy tied to brick, drowned in cruel revenge killing
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW
A TINY chihuahua was mauled to death in its backyard and the accused killer was Rotor, an apparently affable staffy.
Two days later, Rotor's body was discovered with a concrete block tied around its neck by a child fishing at the Goodna boat ramp.
A subsequent RSPCA investigation led to Goodna resident Terence Anthony Burke being charged with animal cruelty.
Burke, 46, a man with an unblemished history, went before Ipswich Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to doing an act of animal cruelty on June 8, 2019 under the Animal Care and Protection Act; and unlawfully killing an animal.
RSPCA prosecutor Nathan Boyd said Rotor's neck and throat had bruising which suggested the ropes were tight and caused him some respiratory distress.
Rotor had bruising to the intestines and abdomen, which suggested some trauma while still alive, consistent with rough handling.
The autopsy's findings were that Rotor's death occurred from drowning.
When interviewed by RSPCA officers and police at his home, Burke "could not recall anything in particular" but then recalled an incident in which his girlfriend's Chihuahua named Rocky had been bailed up and killed by a dog he described as being a "mongrel or Bull Mastiff".
He said they woke to screams and yelping at 3am and he "gave the dog a f**king boot". It ran several laps of the backyard then ran off.
Burke, a Liverpool, England born man who grew up at Goodna, pleaded guilty on the basis he heard dogs barking and screaming in distress at 5am on June 8.
He found one dog, Rocky, that was owned by his former girlfriend, had been attacked and killed.
He trapped Rotor in the laundry, telling his then-girlfriend, "right I'm going to get rid of this f***ing dog".
He then placed Rotor in his car, along with rope and a brick which he used to tie around the dog's neck.
Mr Boyd described the actions as, "abhorrent, horrifying, and painful".
Criminal barrister David Funch said Burke, a crane operator, had led a blameless life until this incident.
Mr Funch told Magistrate Virginia Sturgess that Burke believed the dog was unconscious when he drowned it.
Mr Funch said there was ultimately no doubt his client intended to kill Rotor.
Mr Sturgess said it was a very cruel and horrible death.
She said Burke should have called the authorities after trapping Rotor in the laundry.
"It was unnecessary for the dog to suffer. It was vigilante behaviour and done in retaliation to the death of your partner's dog," she said.
Ms Sturgess sentenced Burke to a three-month jail term and a two-year prohibition order in which he cannot keep an animal without RSPCA permission.
The jail sentence was suspended for two years. He must pay RSPCA legal and vet costs of more than $1600.
Speaking outside the court, Rotor's owner Katherine Johnson said he was a lovely dog whose best pal was a chihuahua named Missy.
"They were best friends. I don't believe he would have attacked the dog," she said.
"He was best friends with our chihuahua. They slept together. He was not an aggressive dog."
Ms Johnson was staying at her mother's Goodna home when Rotor went missing despite the gate having been closed.
"He was microchipped. I was distraught when the RSPCA phoned me and broke the news," she said.