A jury took less than five minutes to convict a County Down man of animal cruelty by killing a dog and feeding it to his own animal.
In one of the fastest verdicts in NI legal history, the Downpatrick Crown Court jury of eight men and four women deliberated for less than 300 seconds on Tuesday before returning to unanimously convict 27-year-old Dominic O’Connor of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog last December.
Formerly known as William Mocsari, O’Connor from Roden Street in Kircubbin, was remanded into custody and will be sentenced on November 21 after probation have written a report.
During the course of the two-day trial, the jury heard horrific details of how O’Connor obtained a four-year-old collie dog called Jess from Facebook, killed it and cooked it into a stew to feed to his own dog Shadow.
The jury heard that during police questioning, O’Connor described how he first tried to strangle Jess with a lead but because it had “too much give,” he used a different lead.
O’Connor who has a personality disorder, told the shocked officers: “I strangled it with the shorter lead. Then I cut it up and cooked some of it and fed it to the dog and put the rest of it on the fire.
“I cooked it and fed it to the other dog with a few onions and an Oxo cube and salt and pepper.”
The jury heard that he attempted to cut the carcass up with an axe and then a bread knife before burning it in the fire.
The ashes, O’Connor confessed, were put into a bag which, knowing police were going to search his home, he dumped into Portavogie harbour.
He conceded that ordinary people would be disgusted at his behaviour and that he recognised “part of it was wrong”.
The horrific incident came to light when he community mental health worker and then a psychiatric nurse at the Ulster Hospital.
The jury heard that when officers arrived to search his house, they found what appeared to be burnt dog hair burnt in the grate with a liquid oozing over the front of the grate.
Giving evidence to the jury, a police constable recounted: “There appeared to be fragments of bone mixed with the ash,” adding that there was also a “stringy type of meat like stewing steak” in a pot in the kitchen and a similar pot of stew placed beside a bowl of water on the floor.
A friend of O’Connor also testified that she saw Jess one day but the next, she was gone and that she heard O’Connor tell his other dog Shadow: “I told you I was going to get another dog and let you taste it.”
She described how despite having committed the atrocious killing, O’Connor “was all happy and stuff...just his normal self” and he claimed he had re-homed Jess that morning.
She told prosecuting lawyer Laura Ievers, however, that she noticed the shower screen had been pulled across in his bathroom and that the house “seemed strange...there was a weird smell to it.”
She said he later confessed to her that he had strangled the dog, put it in the shower, and put it in the bin after she left.
“In a way he was joyful about it,” she said. “He was not all there. His head was somewhere else.”
Defence lawyer Chris Holmes submitted there were no forensic evidence before the jury and conceding “this is not a straight forward case,” confirmed to trial Judge Piers Grant the defence were not relying on a defence of insanity.
Following the jury’s guilty verdict that O’Connor caused unnecessary suffering, Judge Grant ordered pre-sentence reports and remanded the dog killer into custody ahead of sentencing on November 21.