A Donegal man who killed his pet puppy “by kicking it in the air like a football” and threatened his ex-partner's father by sending him a Mass card, has been jailed.
Christopher Foy, 27, had pleaded guilty to killing the 12-month old terrier dog between January 24th and 25th, 2016, in Mountcharles.
Foy, of Flat 2, Lower Main Street, Mountcharles, also admitted sending the Mass card, which was purported to be from the IRA, to Cyprian Gallagher, the father of his former partner and mother of his daughter.
Sgt Oliver Devaney told Letterkenny Circuit Court that the dog was found with severe scorch marks. The cause of death was found to be catastrophic internal abdominal injuries and a rupture of the liver caused by blunt force trauma.
Foy had called the ISPCA to make a complaint that his dog had been attacked and killed by Cyprian Gallagher.
Inspector Kevin McGinley attended Foy’s flat at Lower Main Street on January 27th to see the remains of the 12-month-old pup.
Foy told the ISPCA man that his dog was dead and he wanted something done about it.
However, accompanied by a local Garda, the ISPCA Inspector noticed a coal fire had been lit on grass close to where the dog had been found outside Foy’s rented flat.
Neighbour Carrie Pringle told gardaí she had seen Christopher Foy on Lower Main Street in Mountcharles kicking the dog in the air like a football.
She heard a commotion and looked out and saw the defendant kicking the dog up and down the street. She called him by name and told him to stop.
He lifted the dog, which he called Buttons, and took it into his flat.
A visitor to Foy’s flat, Gary Walsh, said Foy grabbed the dog by the neck and brought it into the flat. He was squeezing its neck and it was rolling around in pain.
On January 28th Cyprian Gallagher made a complaint to Donegal town Garda station that he had received a death threat purporting to be from the IRA in the form of a Mass card.
Mr Gallagher told gardaí he was dubious about the origin of the card and suspected it was from Christopher Foy.
Gardaí visited shops in Mountcharles and Donegal town and found the same type of card sold in a local newsagent in Donegal town.
The shop had kept a record of what cards were sold and for whom the Mass was to be dedicated to.
CCTV footage showed Foy buying the card. He signed it for Cyprian Gallagher, Mountcharles, RIP.
Mr Walsh told gardaí that Foy told him he was going to kill Cyprian Gallagher.
On one occasion he left with a knife and said he was going to kill Cyprian Gallagher and threw a rock at his flat.
Foy was also charged with criminal damage to the accommodation he was staying in, which he also admitted.
The court heard Foy had gone to Nowdoc services in Mountcharles. He was released from a psychiatric unit in Letterkenny two days later and was then arrested.
Sgt Devaney said Foy gave a false account of events. He eventually admitted delivering the Mass card and said he had been “off his head on valium” at the time.
Sgt Devaney said Foy had been very reluctant to make admissions about the death of the dog.
The court heard that Foy has 33 previous convictions for theft, criminal damage, and public order offences.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT
In a victim impact statement, Mr Gallagher said Foy had been coming to his flat to threaten him and throw rocks at his windows. He said he was scared and left lights on in the house at night to give the impression he was still awake.
In a letter to the court Foy said he “loved that wee dog with all my heart”. He said he was not in the right frame of mind at the time and he did not mean to kill her. “It breaks my heart that it happened,” he said.
He said he was experiencing voices and he “made the wrong choice and self-medicated”.
He also said he was very sorry for sending the Mass card. “It happened the same week and it should not have happened. I am sorry for doing it.”
“I am not a bad person. I just went down the wrong road,” he said.
In a statement Carrie Pringle said she lived next door to Foy and she found him quiet and polite. She said his actions on the night he killed the dog were the result of drugs and she was convinced he could make a good life for himself with proper assistance.
In a probation report, Foy said he was taking between 20 and 50 benzodiazepine tablets a day along with alcohol.
He said he could not believe it was him who killed the dog and it keeps him awake at night.
Defence barrister Peter Nolan said Foy’s father died when he was just 12 months old. He had problems reading and was bullied at school and began to abuse cannabis at a young age.
The barrister said Foy has “serious drug dependency issues”.
The probation report stated that he had a high risk of reoffending.
“He can just about read and write,” Mr Nolan said. “This is a step up from the trouble he was in before.” He said Foy was a suitable case for treatment.
“If he is off the drugs and off the drink, he is a young man, he has a chance. If not he will probably be dead in the next ten years.”
Mr Nolan said the dog was the only thing Foy had any respect for and he “actually destroys it”.
Judge John Aylmer said that while the most emotive charge Foy had pleaded guilty to was animal cruelty by kicking his dog to death, the most serious charge was the threat to kill.
The judge said the threat to kill had been taken very seriously by Mr Gallagher.
He said in mitigation Foy had made an early plea, had a significant history of struggling with drink and drugs on top of a history of depression.
The judge imposed a sentence of two and a half years in prison for the threat to kill, 18 months in prison for animal cruelty and nine months for criminal damage, all to run concurrently.
The last 12 months of the sentence were suspended and backdated until February when he had been remanded in custody.
He was ordered to keep the peace for two years and enter into a drug rehabilitation programme when he leaves prison and comply with all directions of the probation services.
He was also disqualified from owning or being involved in the keeping of animals for life.