A local builder who shot his neighbour’s dog with a bow and arrow in South Golden Beach has been jailed after unsuccessfully appealing his conviction in the District Court.
Robert Bruce Stewart shot ‘Bucket’, a 10-month-old Wolfhound-Malamute cross, with a steel-tipped arrow on December 6, 2019.
The injury caused the death of the much-loved dog, and Stewart was subsequently found guilty of two animal cruelty charges, including recklessness and torture, in Byron Bay Local Court last October.
The 61-year-old then appealed his conviction in the District Court, and was allowed to remain on bail pending the outcome of that case.
Last week a judge in the Lismore District Court upheld Stewart’s conviction, and he was ordered to immediately commence his custodial sentence.
Stewart will serve a minimum of three months jail, with a maximum of seven months.
‘The whole family is happy that Bucket is getting some justice, and that someone who’s capable of that is not in our community anymore,’ Bucket’s owner, Kris Thompson, told The Echo on Friday.
‘It’s good to see that the case is over – it dragged out for a long time. He was trying to get away with such a horrible act.’
During Stewart’s initial trial in the local court, it was alleged that he was motivated by his intense dislike of neighbourhood dogs and dog-owners, which had a documented history.
However, Stewart claimed that he had been trying to defend his specially bred chickens and rooster from an attack by Bucket.
He also claimed that he had simply been trying to scare the dog rather than aiming for it, and that the arrow – his third shot at Bucket – had glanced off a palm tree before striking the animal.
But Local Court Magistrate Karen Stafford said she was unconvinced by the ‘flimsy evidence’ regarding the third arrow ricocheting from the tree.
‘Why did it still have enough force to enter the dog’s torso and sever the spine?’ and what was Mr Stewart trying to achieve if the first two arrows had been so ineffective at scaring the dog?’ Magistrate Stafford asked.
She said she was convinced that a motive existed to get back at the neighbourhood dogs and their owners, with Mr Stewart seeking to ‘downplay how upset and obsessed he was’ after previous events with dog-owning neighbours.
Stewart will be eligible for parole in mid August.