R v Alcorn, 2015 ABCA 182

The accused hung a cat by his/her hind legs from the rafters in his garage and cut the throat so that it bled out on the accused’s girlfriend who was positioned below as part of a sexual ritual. The accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 24 months imprisonment (20 months for animal cruelty, 3 months for sexual assault, 1 month for breach of recognizance), and a prohibition from owning an animal or bird. The accused appealed on the basis that the sentencing judge erred in using a pre-trial fitness assessment report to determine the circumstances of the offences that allegedly contained a “major amplification in character and in particulars”.

The court ultimately upheld the sentencing judge’s sentence on the basis of denunciation and deterrence in light of the motive of self-gratification, sadism and premeditation of the offence. The sentence was on the higher end of the range of sentences for animal cruelty but the court stated that this was by no means a cap.

The court referred to the decision of Fraser CJA dissenting in Reece v Edmonton that “a civilized society should show reasonable regard for vulnerable animals” and concluded that sentient animals are not objects.