A Lurgan man who claims to be an animal lover but who bludgeoned an 11-week-old puppy to death with a hammer while high on a cocktail of drink and drugs was jailed for 15 months today (Wednesday, July 10).
Ordering 24-year-old Kyle Keegan to spend the same period under supervised licence conditions, Craigavon Crown Court Judge Neil Rafferty QC said his self-proclamations of being an animal lover “doesn’t sit easily with what he has pleaded guilty to.”
Imposing a 30-year prohibition on Keegan owning any animal, the judge told the puppy killer the sentence must not just punish him but also “deter other young men or other offenders from dealing with animals in this violent and vile and savage manner.”
The judge told Keegan: “It is difficult to imagine how violence could be any more gratuitous than one meted out to an 11-week- old, small breed puppy by the use, we know, of a claw hammer to stove its skull in.
“Mr Keegan your actions towards this small and defenceless animal were barbaric. There is little that can be said that would express the horror of this small dogs death at your hands.”
A day before he was due to go on trial last month Keegan, from Gilpins Manor, finally confessed to causing unnecessary suffering to Sparky, a cross breed Chihuahua puppy, on February 3 last year.
A post mortem examination revealed that Keegan had used a claw hammer to strike “two or three blows” to its head and shoulder, causing multiple skull fractures and his brain to bleed into his lungs.
Prosecuting counsel Nicola Auret told the court how Sparky’s body lay undiscovered in a bin, wrapped in a plastic bag, for two days before owner Ellen Hoy found him having been sent a tip-off that “the dog was dead.”
She spoke to Keegan who had been at a party at her home and asked him if he had killed Sparky but he claimed, “I was drunk – I can’t remember.”
She showed Keegan his blood spattered top that had been found beside Sparky’s crate but he told her “he didn’t know how the blood got on it.”
The lawyer said: “This is a circumstantial case but we say it clearly pointed to the pup having been hit to the head with a hammer, blood was on it and blood was on the top that the defendant had worn ... and the defendants DNA was part of a mixed DNA profile on the hammer.”
In mitigation, defence counsel Barry McKenna conceded that “it is difficult to say that this case is anything other than appalling.”
He said: “It’s frightening and horrifying both to the defendant himself and I have no doubt your honour, the depths to which a person can plunge while under the influence of very substantial amounts of alcohol and drugs ... the defendant simply cannot explain it.”
Jailing Keegan, Judge Rafferty said: “Quite frankly, your actions towards this pup were vile, disgusting and savage.”