Monday 26 September 2016

Man who violently killed sick dog as he 'couldn't afford vet bills' escapes jail

Conor Gallagher and Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 16/10/2015 | 15:25

Liam Dowling
Liam Dowling

A man who violently killed his sick dog in a park full of children because he claimed he couldn't afford vet bills has been ordered to carry out community service.

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Liam Dowling's case was adjourned last July in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after Judge Martin Nolan indicated he would not jail him if he was judged suitable for community service.

Today the court heard that the Probation Service had judged him suitable and Judge Nolan imposed 200 hours community service in lieu of a two year sentence. The judge declined to ban Dowling from keeping dogs in future.

The previous sentence hearing was told that one witness saw Dowling (44) of Fitzgibbon Court, Fitzgibbon Street swing the Jack Russell dog overhead by its lead and smash it to the ground up to 30 times as he crossed a park area by Clonliffe College.

Garda Shane Mengessidis said that Dowling was also seen putting his foot on the dog's head while it was on the ground and pulling the lead tight.

Dowling pleaded guilty to killing a protected animal at Clonliffe College on August 19, 2014. He has 12 previous convictions, including a four and a half year sentence for a drugs offence.

Judge Nolan commented that “by any standard what happened to this poor dog was incredibly cruel”, but noted that Dowling had been on prescription drugs at the time.

He further noted that Dowling cared for a child and was a “contributing member of society” and said he would not impose a ban on Dowling keeping animals, as he didn't want to deprive the man's child of having a dog.

Gda Mengessidis told Cormac Quinn BL, prosecuting, that Dowling walked across the park and every so often swung the animal over his head, until he entered some bushes.

Witnesses, including children, subsequently saw Dowling re-emerge with only the dog's lead.

Dowling told gardaí at the scene that the dog had run off when he had taken it off its lead, but later admitted killing the pet.

Gda Mengessidis said a vet with the Dublin Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) found the dog had died from repeated blunt force trauma to its body.

Dowling claimed the dog, a family pet of nine years, had been sick for up to five months and he didn't have the money to pay for vet bills.

He said he had tried to suffocate the pet in fields and denied knowing about an euthanasia procedure provided by the Irish Blue Cross.

“Sorry, I thought I was doing the right thing,” Dowling said in interview.

Gda Mengessidis agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that Dowling said his child had been fond of the dog.

He further agreed Dowling had a drug problem and was on antidepressants at the time.

Mr Rea submitted to Judge Nolan that it was Dowling's initial intention to smother the dog, but the antidepressants led to his “distorted behaviour.”

He asked the judge to take into consideration his client's early guilty plea, his co-operation and that he has no history of cruelty to animals.

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