Saturday 16 December 2017

Two men accused of dousing dog in petrol and setting it alight bid to have charges thrown out

Andrew Richard Stewart leaves court
Andrew Richard Stewart leaves court
Jamie Downey leaves court

Paul Higgins and Amanda Ferguson

Two men accused of burning a Co Antrim family's dog to death are set to argue for the charges against them to be thrown out of court.

Martin and Natalie Agnew's three-year-old border collie Cody was attacked last summer close to their home in Moira.

Yesterday solicitors for Jamie Downey and Andrew Richard Stewart, both 22, told Lisburn Magistrates Court they would be making "no case to answer" applications which, if granted, would mean the end of the case in connection with the dog's death.

Downey, from Chestnut Hall Avenue, and Stewart, from Wellington Parks, both in Moira, are accused of causing unnecessary suffering to Cody on August 26, 2012.

They had been due to to be connected to that charge yesterday and a preliminary enquiry held, potentially committing them to the Crown Court for trial, but both were adjourned in light of future defence submissions.

District Judge Rosemary Watters granted legal aid to both Downey and Stewart and adjourned the case for two weeks to hear submissions on the no case to answer move.

Under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) a person found guilty of unnecessary suffering can be sentenced to a maximum prison term of two years, a fine, or both.

In an incident that shocked and horrified animal lovers across Northern Ireland, three-year-old Cody suffered horrific burns to most of her body when she was doused in petrol and set on fire in the Maghaberry Road area of Moira.

The dog's injuries were so severe her ribs and other joints were visible through her burnt flesh.

Vet Ian Moore and his team in Moira provided round-the-clock care to the dog, but her injuries were so severe she had to be put down.

A statement issued on behalf of the family at the time said they had been left gutted by Cody's death, but they knew "she was suffering and was only going to get even worse".

The Facebook page set up following the young dog's horrific ordeal has attracted more than 68,000 supporters.

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