Retiree in court over fatal attack on dog
A RETIREE from Kangaroo Point has been sentenced to community service for bashing a small pet dog to death with a broom, after it escaped from its yard.
Erika Lehmann, 61, appeared in Pine Rivers Magistrates Court this morning before Acting Magistrate Robert Turra where she was also ordered to reimburse the owner of five year old King Charles cavalier spaniel "Bella" for the cost of her cremation, post-mortem and purchase.
Acting Magistrate Turra accepted that Lehmann killed Bella by hitting her with a broom "at least four times" in her Arana Hills yard on August 31 last year.
The court heard that Lehmann feared Bella would attack her chickens and showed immediate remorse for her actions, telling an RSPCA inspector that her actions were "excessive".
"I regret it. I really do feel bad about the whole thing. It was not my intention," Lehmann told the inspector on September 27 last year.
An autopsy on Bella by a vet revealed she died from bleeding on her brain, and had a fractured skull, and extensive bruising to the top, back and right side of her head.
Bella was living next door to Lehmann temporarily, while building work was carried out at her owner's home.
The court heard Lehmann hit Bella at around 1.45pm, and Bella was then seen to be walking in a "wobbly" manner. Bella was pronounced dead by a vet at 2.10pm, after Lehmann telephoned a relative of Bella's owner to come and collect the dog.
The relative found Bella "lying motionless next to the fence" at Lehmann's home with her eyes open, but Bella's body was limp when she was picked up.
Lehmann assisted the relative to take Bella to the vet, the court heard.
Acting Magistrate Turra concluded Lehmann's actions were not "gratuitous cruelty", and sentenced her to 100 hours community service.
She pleaded guilty to unlawful killing of an animal, which carries a maximum jail term of three years.
Acting Magistrate Turra did not record a conviction.
Lehmann, who was emotional in court, made admissions to the RSPCA, entered an early plea of guilty and wrote to apologise to Bella's owner.
The court heard Lehmann volunteered with homeless youth and had no criminal history.
RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty told The Courier-Mail outside court that the RSPCA was pleased with the outcome and the approach taken by the court.
"Unfortunately our Inspectors see way too many of these cases where people harm or kill precious pets unnecessarily," Mr Beatty said.
Residents who find wandering animals should restrain them and then call the council, Mr Beatty said.
"There are other ways to deal with these situations that do not end in tragedy," he said.
"People need to appreciate that they are dealing with precious family members in cases like this, and these pets are not disposable, not replaceable," he said.