R v Young, 2016 MBPC

Mr. Young was found guilty of three separate crimes: Hitting another individual with a cat, causing the animal’s death; throwing a German Shepard onto the pavement; and, punching a nurse who was attending to him at a psychiatric facility.

Mr. Young pleaded guilty to all charges. The defence sought a two year probation with a focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Whereas, the Crown argued for six months in jail.

The defence argued that Mr. Young’s cognitive deficits (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, possible schizophrenia) were mitigating factors. The defence also noted that Mr. Young lives in a society where it is unacceptable to kill domestic animals, even though it is acceptable to kill animals for meat. Moreover, the heroes in Indigenous culture often kill animals. Defence argues that these moral discrepancies are complicated for someone with Mr. Young’s deficiencies.

In sentencing, the Court accepted that Mr. Young suffered from cognitive difficulties and an impoverished upbringing. However, he did not accept that society’s discrepancy between companion animals and animals as food as a mitigating factor in this case, stating that this “usually does not spill over into criminal behaviour”.

The judge noted that a propensity to hurt animals is “too often… the tip of a psychotic iceberg,” and “there was reason to believe in this case that Mr. Young was a danger to people as well as animals.” Custody was deemed necessary to stabilize the accused.