Left: Mikala Burns posing with a possum she shot dead. Top right: Tristan Webb. Bottom right: Webb and Reed’s dogs April and Soot after their amputations.
Left: Mikala Burns posing with a possum she shot dead. Top right: Tristan Webb. Bottom right: Webb and Reed’s dogs April and Soot after their amputations.

7 ‘sickening’ animal cases which shocked Gympie

"SICKENING", "shocking" and "putrid" were just a few of the words used to describe some of the below cases of animals being abused, neglected or killed in the Gympie region in recent years.

1. Woman posed with protected possum she shot dead

Mooloo woman Mikala Ann Burns ended weeks of social media denials when she pleaded guilty in the court last year to killing a protected brushtail possum in the Amamoor State Forest in January.

Burns, 24, also pleaded guilty to unlawfully discharging a weapon in Amamoor State Forest, and with using a firearm without a permit, during the same course of action.

Police told the court the issue had become public on February 19, when a photograph was posted on social media showing two females displaying a dead possum.

The animal had been shot and killed during a night hunt, aimed at obtaining dog food, the court was told.

There had been a "major public backlash" and Burns had been "extremely remorseful."

Magistrate Chris Callaghan said he accepted that Burns had shot a possum, but not identified her target and had realised it was wounded.

"Shooting in the forest was the most serious (of the charges)," he said.

"Someone else could have been there."

He told Burns, unemployed, that he intended to fine her, but she might be better off converting the penalty to community service.

He fined her $1000 with no conviction recorded, in view of her lack of any previous offences.

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Mikala Burns posed with the protected brushtail possum after illegally shooting it in the Amamoor State Forest.
Mikala Burns posed with the protected brushtail possum after illegally shooting it in the Amamoor State Forest.

2. Animal cruelty case shocks Gympie judge

In August 2017, Jessie James Clarke, then 22, pleaded guilty in Gympie District Court to his part in the torture of a wild bird, identified in the charge as a dusky moorhen, at Chatsworth on November 17, 2015.

That event, dealt with as an example of the relatively new offence of serious animal cruelty, was linked to drug offences between August 26 and September 18 in 2016 and a weapons offence on September 18.

A phone video shown to the court depicted a group of young men, including Clarke, laughing as they repeatedly "zapped" the bird with a hand-held cattle prod.

"The capacity to inflict such pain on another living creature is hard to fathom," Judge Clare told Clarke during sentencing.

"The fact that it was used for group amusement is the kind of behaviour that cannot be tolerated in a civilised society.

"Gratuitous cruelty is an element missing from live baiting.

"At 20, you were old enough to know better. One might expect a 20 year old to have a conscience."

Allowing for six months already served in pre-sentence custody, Judge Leanne Clare sentenced Clarke to two months' jail, suspended to hang over his head for two years.

It will be concurrent with 18 months for other charges including supplying and possessing drugs.

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Webb’s dog April and Reed’s dog Soot had their left hind legs amputated after sustaining “unusually” similar injuries.
Webb’s dog April and Reed’s dog Soot had their left hind legs amputated after sustaining “unusually” similar injuries.

3. Gympie brothers cop more than $10,000 in fines for neglect

In 2019, Monkland's Tristan Webb, then 28, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide appropriate treatment for injury and one of failing to provide appropriate food and water for his puppy, April.

Webb told the court April was run over by a car in August 2018, and had broken her leg, but he could not afford to take her to the vet.

After being reported to the RSPCA six weeks later, it was discovered the puppy's injuries were too severe to heal, and April's left hind leg was amputated.

April was also underweight, had a severe hookworm infestation and a small area of hair loss, likely to be ringworm.

Webb was fined almost $8000 and banned from owning more animals for two years.

Another puppy was seized from the property, belonging to Webb's brother Kia John Allen Reed, then 19, who pleaded guilty to the same charges earlier that year.

Reed's three month old Bull Arab had a similar injury and also had a leg amputated.

pleaded guilty to the same charges in January and was placed on nine months probation, and ordered to pay $2787.82 to the RSPCA for treatment.

No convictions were recorded against Reed, and he was banned from having a dog for one year.

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Tristan Webb leaving the Gympie Magistrates Court.
Tristan Webb leaving the Gympie Magistrates Court.

4. 11 birds dead, several more set free in violent "revenge" attack

A Gympie man was ordered to spend at least five months behind bars after "an extremely dangerous, pointless revenge attack" which came close to burning out two CBD businesses.

In 2018, Daniel Peter Henry May, also threatened to burn down his partner's home, kicked over and damaged a $21,000 automatic dog washing machine in one Monkland St business, before attacking the caged bird business next door.

Gympie District Court was told May turned several birds loose and his actions resulted in the deaths of 11 more.

Crown prosecutor Ryder Reid told Judge Bernard Porter the offences were "malicious, vengeful and opportunistic".

Judge Porter sentenced him to 18 months jail with parole after five months.

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The four spurs located at Frank Robert Huskisson's place. Picture: RSPCA
The four spurs located at Frank Robert Huskisson's place. Picture: RSPCA

5. Two year investigation into cockfighting ends in a Gympie court

In 2018 the RSPCA ended a two year-long regional investigation into secret cockfighting across southeast Queensland.

Under codename Operation Spencer, the probe into the secret blood sport of cockfighting led to 11 warrants, and several raids and court appearances in Gympie, Beenleigh, Ipswich and Caloundra.

Widgee man Frank Robert Huskisson was the last to front court, and pleaded guilty to possessing prohibited spur caps in the Gympie Magistrates Court.

His charges arose from the investigation but did not allege involvement in the cockfighting or animal cruelty.

He was fined $3000 at Gympie Magistrates Court for possessing spurs and spur caps and was prohibited from owning fowl for two years.

RSPCA inspectors searched his property, where they located eight cockfighting spurs mounted in a frame hanging on a wall in the pool room, the court was told.

The defendant said he had received them as a gift.

They were determined by inspectors to be for display purposes and rendered inoperable.

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6. Woman kept flea-ridden dogs in "putrid' conditions

Speaking by video link from prison in 2017, Clare Snow, then 36, pleaded guilty to breaching a duty of care to her two dogs, found by RSPCA inspectors living in "putrid" conditions amid faeces and with serious flea infestations and weeping ear infections on multiple occasions.

She also told the court of her extreme health issues and other problems which had resulted in her being in jail for some of the period covered by the charges.

An RSPCA inspector told the court the two dogs suffered fur loss and cracked skin from serious flea infestations and had brown waxy discharge from ear infections.

One had worn teeth from biting itself in response to its flea problems.

The dogs were treated by the RSPCA and later rehomed.

She was fined $3000, half to go to the RSPCA, with no convictions recorded and ordered to pay vet fees.

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Casey May Lynch pleaded guilty to breaching her duty of care to her dog of two years, Rocky, who was found malnourished. Picture: RSPCA
Casey May Lynch pleaded guilty to breaching her duty of care to her dog of two years, Rocky, who was found malnourished. Picture: RSPCA

7. Mother left dog for days in the dirt without water

A mother who left her two-year-old dog in the dirt under her Goomeri home while she went to visit her friend in Bundaberg for six days faced court late last year.

Rocky, a mixed breed male dog, was found by police on August 24, 2019, whimpering and sitting in the dirt with a dry water and food bowl alongside a filthy towel.

Police could see the dog's rib cage and rear hip bones protruding, showing he was malnourished.

Casey May Lynch pleaded guilty to breaching the duty of care for an animal in Murgon Magistrates Court.

Lynch, who admitted to leaving her dog under the house, told police she had never taken Rocky to the vet in the two years she had owned him and could not remember the last time she walked him.

Lynch was fined $750 and was prevented from owning a dog for two years.

The dog was taken to Gympie RSPCA for treatment and Lynch was ordered to pay $267 in vet bills.

No conviction was recorded due to her youth and lack of history however, the magistrate said that did not mean it was not a serious offence.

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Gympie Times


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