Neighbours square up as one flogs dog with belt
A dog cowered in the corner of a Sunshine Coast yard as it was flogged by its owner with a belt-like object, kicked and dragged inside.
Residents of a Nambour street rushed to James Daniel O'Brien's home when they heard his dog yelping and crying in pain on July 19.
Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard one neighbour came to the door to see a "scared dog" cowering in the corner of the yard just after 10pm.
"The witness states he saw the defendant with an item in his hand like a belt," police prosecutor Stephen Potter said.
"He belted the dog numerous times while it was trapped in the corner of the yard's fence.
"The witness has then seen the defendant grab the dog by the scruff of its neck and yank it hard before letting the dog go and kicking it once."
The court heard the dog was yelping throughout the ordeal.
O'Brien's neighbour yelled for him to leave the dog alone.
"I can do what I want and it's none of your business," O'Brien replied.
Sgt Potter said the 26-year-old then dragged the dog to a small room under the house.
The neighbour told police he heard loud banging coming from the room and heard the dog yelp for a further 10 minutes.
Three other neighbours said they heard the dog crying.
"(One) stated she ran to the toilet and looked through the glass slats towards the address and could see the defendant dragging the dog and beating it," Sgt Potter said.
She immediately called police.
Officers arrived to find O'Brien intoxicated.
He told police he had been drinking and they made their way to the dog which was in a cage under the house.
Officers described the dog as slim but "of sound appearance".
O'Brien denied hitting it.
He told police he was in an ongoing dispute with his neighbours regarding his dog and had been threatened.
Police spoke to O'Brien's neighbours who said the 26-year-old had been in a yelling match with one of his neighbours on his driveway that night.
The court heard O'Brien was repeatedly yelling "f---".
He had to be separated from the neighbour when they began to fight.
O'Brien on Monday pleaded guilty to prohibited animal cruelty and committing public nuisance.
He had no previous like offences on his history.
Sgt Potter said it was important that a sentence deterred O'Brien and others from cruel treatment of animals.
Duty lawyer Michael Robinson said no injuries on the dog were observed by police.
He submitted the court shouldn't rely on the witnesses' accounts, of yelping from inside, as evidence that O'Brien was abusing the dog a second time.
"A dog that's just been given a thrashing then put in a cage isn't going to be yelping out in pain unless it's getting some grief Mr Robinson," Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin replied.
He said O'Brien was facing up to three years in jail.
Mr McLaughlin said the matter was complex and would require more time for a magistrate to consider comparative cases.
"This is a matter where I don't think a quick decision is appropriate," he said.
"It needs to be considered with some care."
He made a note on the files that the sentencing magistrate should consider making an order that prohibits O'Brien from owning pets.
The court did not hear where the dog was residing or what condition it was in.
Sgt Potter said witnesses believed it was no longer at O'Brien's home.
Outside court, O'Brien told the Daily the feud erupted from him asking his neighbour not to feed his dog ham.
He will be sentenced on October 29.