R v Power, 2003 CanLII 20379 ONCA

Crown appeal on the question of sentence. Guilty plea of an accused who captured a healthy cat and videotaped himself torturing it to death. Guilty plea to animal abuse and mischief. The accused and two others captured a healthy domestic cat belonging to an unknown third party and took it to an abandoned building. They proceeded to torture and finally kill the helpless animal. The respondent videotaped this process. The police discovered the skinned body of the cat hanging in the refrigerator of the accused. The cat’s head was in a zip lock bag in the freezer. 21 year old accused, no criminal record, remorse, intense media.

He was sentenced to 90 days intermittent for the cruelty charge and a consecutive, conditional 18-month sentence followed by three years probation on the mischief charge. Stringent terms were attached to the conditional sentence, including 240 hours of cso. By the time of the appeal, Power had completed his intermittent sentence, the most stringent portion of the conditional sentence and over half of the community service. The Crown sought additional incarceration of 10 months.

Held: appeal dismissed. The animal abuse charge had a maximum of 6 months and this was ½ of the maximum. The maximum sentence for this offence could not be artificially increased through the addition of a second charge (mischief) that resulted from the same conduct. Despite the sentencing judge’s acceptance that the accused did not want the cat to suffer it is clear the cat suffered horribly and the accused was enjoying the suffering of the cat.

It is up to Parliament to change the maximum sentencing on animal cases (note at the time of offence the maximum was 6 months).