Guilty plea for teen lamb killers
TWO teenage boys charged with bludgeoning a pair of defenceless 12-week-old lambs to death at Clifton have pleaded guilty in the Warwick Children’s Court.
The pair of 16-year-olds – who by law cannot be named due to their age – hung their heads as they stood next to each other in court yesterday while listening to the details of their sickening acts.
The lambs they kicked, punched and laid into with timber belonged to the Clifton Police Station and were fed and doted on by children of the officers and by pupils from the nearby state school.
Police Prosecutor Senior Constable Steve de Lissa told the court the teens were unsupervised and drinking heavily on the night of November 21 when they took it into their heads to go to the police station and chase the lambs from their paddock next door.
They then caught the terrified animals and took them back to a local residence where, in the living room, they repeatedly punched the lambs in the head and watched as they struggled to get to their feet after each blow.
Their drunken depravity escalated when they took the lambs outside and began kicking them in the head, causing bleeding.
One died from the successive punches and kicks, with the teens finding a length of timber and striking the other lamb over the head until it too expired.
Having finished their evening’s pathetic entertainment, the offenders then dumped the bloodied bodies in a drain near the school.
Snr Const de Lissa submitted a “lengthy” period of probation would be an appropriate punishment.
Yesterday was their first court appearance in relation to the slayings, with the teens supported by their mothers.
Their defence counsel, Phillip Crook, said his clients were “very remorseful”, telling Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist one of the boys’ mothers had stated her son “loves animals” and that she was disgusted with his “bizarre behaviour”.
“They had been drinking very heavily on the night in question and it seems to have been a spur of the moment thing,” Mr Crook said.
“The only fact they are disputing is the age of the lambs – they put them at around 12 months old.
“The timber was used in the end to put the lamb which was still alive out of its misery.”
The court also heard one of the teens – who is attending sessions with a Toowoomba psychologist – had felt some of the “wrath of the Clifton community” since the killings.
The other teenager is now living in Ipswich.
Magistrate Stjernqvist told the pair their actions had been “cowardly” and if they had been in an adult court, jail would have been likely.
“And in an adult prison, once the word got around about what you were in there for, you would probably find some similar violence directed at yourselves,” he said.
“I don’t know that you appreciate the enormity of what you have done.”
Mr Stjernqvist adjourned sentencing until July 12, ordering the pair to take part in a youth justice conference with the Clifton Police.
Also taking part in the conference will be representatives of the Toowoomba Regional Council, with the boys yesterday also pleading guilty to entering the Clifton public pool on November 17.
On that evening they entered the closed and locked pool and smashed a wine bottle, forcing the Toowoomba council to empty, clean and re-fill the pool at a cost to ratepayers.
The teenagers also left a calling card in the form of faeces which was found on the poolside the following morning by staff.
They also pleaded guilty to stealing a child’s bicycle at Clifton earlier the same day.
In other news, an RSPCA spokesman has called on the State Government to re-introduce weekend detention for juvenile offenders in the wake of the lambs’ slaying.
Michael Beatty told the Daily News fines were pointless, saying losing their freedom at the weekend was a sure way to bring young offenders to heel.
“The State Government abolished weekend detention some years ago, but there is a clear argument for bringing it back,” Mr Beatty said.
“Take away their freedom on the weekend when they want to go out with their mates might have more of an effect than some other forms of punishment.”
Mr Beatty called on the Warwick Children’s Court to impose a penalty which would act as a deterrent to others.
“All the research has shown that animal cruelty performed by young people often leads to other forms of violence later on,” he said.
“We urge the court to also look at psychological assistance for these offenders.”
Meanwhile, a 51-year-old Nobby man stands accused by the RSPCA of beating a five-month-old bull terrier pup to death.
Patrick Gerald Tomlinson is alleged to have beaten the dog with a length of timber so severely it had to be put down.
Tomlinson’s matter was adjourned in the Magistrates Court yesterday while he awaits a further appearance.