Dog shooting accused awaits ruling in court hearing

A DECISION is set to be handed down today in the hearing of a man charged with the bow and arrow shooting of a dog on a leafy Byron Shire street.

South Golden Beach man Robert Bruce Stewart, 60, has been facing a hearing on a charge of recklessly torturing and seriously injuring an animal.
He has pleaded not guilty.

He is also facing, and defending, a backup charge of committing an act of aggravated cruelty.

The court has heard Mr Stewart found his neighbour’s Irish wolfhound x malamute, named Bucket, outside his chicken coop about 7.30am on December 6 last year.

Mr Stewart, a former member of two Northern Rivers archery clubs, told Byron Bay Local Court on Wednesday he shot arrows toward the coop with the intention of striking a piece of metal and causing a noise to scare Bucket away.

He said the first arrow hit the dirt and a second struck the metal.

A third, he claimed, ricocheted off a tree then struck Bucket, severing his spine.

The dog was euthanased after a vet surgeon found there was no other option.

Police prosecutor Alix Thom told the court “severe pain was inflicted” by Mr Stewart’s actions and even if he had no intent to hurt the dog, there was “recklessness” as to the potential consequence of his choice to fire the arrows.

Mr Stewart told the court he did not feel safe to confront the dog which he says was “snapping at” his chicken coop, in light of previous incidents in which he claims other neighbourhood dogs “rushed” him and his family.

Some witness accounts conflicted with this and suggested Mr Stewart acted belligerently toward dogs and their owners without provocation.

During cross examination, Mr Stewart said it hadn’t occurred to him there was a risk, in firing arrows, that he might harm Bucket.

“In my submission the animal was clearly tortured by the metal arrow that severed his spine,” Ms Thom said.

“This is a person who’s had conflict with six different people on his street that all own dogs.

“The actions of the defendant are excessive and disproportionate to the threat as he perceived it.”

Defence lawyer John Weller said the outcome of the incident was “regrettable” and “sad”, but maintained his client had no intention to harm the dog.

In his client’s mind, Bucket was in “a frenzy” and there was a risk of “an imminent attack on his chickens”, Mr Weller said.

The court heard Mr Stewart told a neighbour words to the effect of: “he’s gonna die, I’ve shot him” and Mr Weller accepted his client “doesn’t have the best bedside manner”.

Bur he argued the accused took responsibility for the matter and said there was “not a skerrick of inconsistency” in his evidence.

Magistrate Karen Stafford is expected to hand down her decision today.

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