29 November 2017
Commenting on the sentence handed down to a man convicted of animal cruelty, Strangford MLA Peter Weir said,
"The custodial sentence handed out today to Dominic O'Connor who was responsible for the horrendous crime of killing and cooking a dog must serve as a warning to other potential animal cruelty perpetrators. The sentence of two years in jail plus two years on licence provokes mixed thoughts. It is difficult to think of a more cruel and serious crime of animal cruelty, and I would have liked the sentence to have been more severe, indeed reflecting the maximum 5 year available. Nevertheless, the fact that it is a substantive custodial prison sentence is a step in the right direction. Even just a few years ago, time in prison was virtually unheard of, so it is important that the Courts are finally beginning to listen to the concerns of the public and legislators over these issues.
The sentence also vindicates the lobbying that was done by myself and others which lead to an increase in the tariffs for maximum sentences for animal cruelty cases. Without a change in the law it is very unlikely that a two-year prison sentence would have been imposed. Sadly, whatever conviction will not rectify what happened to the poor dog Jess, but at least a clear signal has been sent that future offenders can face the full rigour of the law including time in jail."