A BEGGAR has been found guilty of cruelty to a rabbit that he had with him as he asked passers-by for money in Dublin city centre.
Adrian Negrea (36) was arrested after gardai became concerned for the welfare of the animal, which was being kept with no food or water on a hot day.
Officers were also worried that it was suffering as he carried it in his breast pocket.
Negrea was convicted, fined €200 and banned from keeping rabbits for 18 months.
He had denied a cruelty charge at Dublin District Court, insisting that the white pet rabbit was "like his baby" and he took care of it "like a small child".
Negrea, a Romanian father-of-three of Virginia Heights, Tallaght, was charged that he "did cruelly ill-treat or terrify a domestic rabbit".
Judge James Faughnan said if the accused is to keep rabbits again he must do so appropriately, as the charge could lead to a lifetime ban.
Garda Kerrie Sullivan said she saw Negrea begging while holding a small white domestic rabbit outside Spar at Nassau Street.
"I observed there was no food or water present," she said.
The animal was given to the DSPCA and Negrea did not reclaim it, saying they were "€12 in the pet shop".