Hike sentence

Relief from prison sentence for dog torture

Emma Hurst of the Animal Justice Party said there were still huge gaps in the legislation. Photo provided by Miklos Bolza/AAP.

by Miklos Bolza, AAP Sydney

A mobile petting zoo owner who fatally injured a dog with a pitchfork and mallet has been sentenced to at least two years in prison for the ‘brutal and barbaric attack’.

On Monday, Magistrate David Degnan ordered Sydney man Daniel Brighton, 33, to spend a maximum of 38 months behind bars for his cruel attack on a bull terrier at 3am on January 14, 2016.

Brighton stabbed the dog about six times with a pitchfork after he entered his property in Minto Heights with another dog and injured his camel, Alice.

He then hung the injured dog by its leash from a tree and hit it between six and eight times with a mallet.

“It was a particularly brutal and barbaric attack on an animal that was not necessarily innocent. But by the time the attacks happened there was no longer any need for offense and it was acting in retaliation or revenge,” said the Magistrate in Campbelltown Local Court.

He found Brighton guilty of aggravated act of cruelty to an animal with intent to cause severe pain and with intent to kill.

At an earlier hearing, the court heard from a zoo worker who said the dog was submissive after Brighton captured it. She urged him to contact the police who could find the pet’s owner and hold him responsible for Alice’s attack.

After puncturing the side of the dog with the pitchfork, Brighton went to get medicine to cure his camel. After treating Alice, he moved the dog to find it was still alive, deciding to hang it from the tree and bludgeon it with a mallet.

“I’ll make sure he’s dead,” he said, swinging the gavel like a baseball bat.

Mr Degnan rejected arguments that Brighton had no other way of killing the animal, saying that while he wished to humanely euthanize it, his long experience in animal care and welfare animals gave him the expertise to do so.

“Due to his feelings of anger and retaliation, he intentionally wanted to inflict severe pain on the dog,” the magistrate said.

Testimony from veterinary experts given after an autopsy of the dog revealed that he most likely died of asphyxiation after being hung around his neck by the leash.

Brighton had also shown no remorse or contrition for the attack, the court found. He appeared to show no emotion as he was led out of court by officers.

Speaking after the sentencing, Emma Hurst, MLC for the Animal Justice Party, expressed her relief that a prison sentence had been handed down for what she called an outright act of cruelty to animals.

“We need to make sure that such extreme acts of cruelty are taken very seriously by the courts and we saw that happen today,” she said.

Ms Hurst said she was mortified that Brighton was still able to acquire several new animals even after being charged.

“There are still huge gaps in our legislation that really need urgent attention,” she said.

In June 2019 Brighton was jailed for a maximum of three years and four months. This was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal, which sent the case back for a new trial.

He filed a further appeal against Mr Degnan’s guilty verdict in March this year, an appeal which now includes his conviction. His lawyers will seek his release from prison while this appeal is pending.

If Brighton’s request to be released from prison and his appeal are both unsuccessful, he will be eligible for parole on July 10, 2024.