Man found guilty of animal cruelty after he admitted to strangling dog and cooking it into a stew
A jury took less than five minutes yesterday to convict a man of animal cruelty for killing a dog and feeding it to his own animal.
In one of the fastest verdicts in Northern Ireland's legal history, the Downpatrick Crown Court jury of eight men and four women deliberated for less than 300 seconds before returning to unanimously convict 27-year-old Dominic O'Connor of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog last December.
Formerly known as William Mocsari, O'Connor - from Roden Street in the Co Down village - was remanded into custody and will be sentenced on November 21 after a report is submitted by probation officers.
During the two-day trial, the jury heard horrific details of how O'Connor obtained a four-year-old collie dog called Jess from someone on Facebook, killed it and cooked it into a stew to feed to his own dog, Shadow.
The jury heard that during police questioning O'Connor described how he first tried to strangle Jess with a lead but because it had "too much give" he used a different one.
O'Connor, who has a personality disorder, told officers: "I strangled it with the shorter lead. Then I cut it up and cooked some of it and fed it to the dog and put the rest of it on the fire.
"I cooked it and fed it to the other dog with a few onions and an Oxo cube and salt and pepper."
The jury heard he attempted to cut the carcass up with an axe and then a bread knife before burning it in the fire.
The ashes, O'Connor confessed, were put into a bag which, knowing the police were going to search his home, he dumped into Portavogie harbour.
He conceded that ordinary people would be disgusted at his behaviour and that he recognised "part of it was wrong".
The incident came to light when he told a community mental health worker and then a psychiatric nurse at the Ulster Hospital about it.
The jury heard that when officers arrived to search his house, they found what appeared to be burnt dog hair in the fireplace and a liquid oozing over the front of the grate.
Giving evidence, a police constable said there "appeared to be fragments of bone mixed with the ash," adding that there was also a "stringy type of meat like stewing steak" in a pot in the kitchen and a similar pot beside a bowl of water on the floor.
A friend of O'Connor's testified she saw Jess one day but the next she was gone, and that she heard O'Connor tell his other dog: "I told you I was going to get another dog and let you taste it."
She described how O'Connor "was all happy and stuff... just his normal self" and he claimed he had re-homed Jess that morning.
She told prosecuting lawyer Laura Ievers, however, that she noticed the shower screen had been pulled across in his bathroom and that the house "seemed strange... there was a weird smell to it". She said he later confessed to her that he had strangled the dog, put it in the shower, and put it in the bin after she left.
"In a way he was joyful about it," she said. "He was not all there. His head was somewhere else."
Defence lawyer Chris Holmes submitted there was no forensic evidence before the jury and, conceding that "this is not a straightforward case", confirmed to trial Judge Piers Grant the defence was not relying on a defence of insanity.
Following the jury's guilty verdict that O'Connor caused unnecessary suffering, Judge Grant ordered pre-sentence reports and remanded the dog killer into custody ahead of sentencing on November 21.