Robert Bruce Stewart, 60, leaves Ballina Court House on Thursday, October 22, 2020 after he was found guilty of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal. Picture: Liana Boss
Robert Bruce Stewart, 60, leaves Ballina Court House on Thursday, October 22, 2020 after he was found guilty of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal. Picture: Liana Boss

Why man who shot neighbour's beloved puppy walked free

A FAR North Coast man, who was found guilty of animal cruelty, has been sentenced to time behind bars.

But a short time after his penalty was imposed in Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday, Robert Bruce Stewart's lawyer lodged a severity appeal and successfully applied for him to be released on bail.

Magistrate Karen Stafford had found Stewart guilty of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal following a hearing in October.

The charge arose from a December 6, 2019 incident during which Stewart, Ms Stafford found, intentionally fired arrows at a 10-month-old Irish wolfhound x malamute puppy, named Bucket, who had entered the yard of his South Golden Beach home and was outside his chicken coop.

The third and final arrow struck Bucket, severing his spine and resulting in an injury so severe the only option was to have him euthanased, the court heard.

On Tuesday, the court heard Stewart would not appeal against the conviction or the $637.20 in compensation to be paid to Bucket's owner; he will only appeal against his sentence of nine months prison, including five months without parole.

Defence lawyer John Weller had conceded in his submissions to the court that the offence could warrant some time in custody.

Police prosecutor Alix Thom said this was a "sensible" concession.

Mr Weller tendered to the court a range of personal submissions attesting to his client's otherwise good character and said Stewart had cared for people close to him.

Mr Weller said a sentencing assessment report "takes the view (Stewart) is unlikely to reoffend" following the "highly regrettable incident".

 

Robert Bruce Stewart, 60, leaves Ballina Court House on Thursday, October 22, 2020 after he was found guilty of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal. Picture: Liana Boss
Robert Bruce Stewart, 60, leaves Ballina Court House on Thursday, October 22, 2020 after he was found guilty of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal. Picture: Liana Boss

Stewart consented to five apprehended violence orders protecting neighbours.

Mr Weller asked the court to consider a sentence other than full time imprisonment.

Ms Thom argued there was "absolutely no remorse shown by Mr Stewart as a result of what occurred to the animal".

She said residents had told her they had felt unable to gather in the street and did not feel comfortable walking their dogs past Stewart's home because of the "lasting impact and trauma" resulting from the incident.

Ms Stafford found Stewart had demonstrated "callous disregard" of the dog.

Stewart was released on bail pending his District Court appeal.


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