Nico Pettigrew, aged 18, was with his 14-year-old girlfriend. According to press reports, they lured a horse over towards them by offering to feed it. Pettigrew then punched the animal with some force, causing it to step back, and then threw a rock at it, causing it to collapse.
The Telegraph reported that he said he did so ‘for a laugh’ and had injured his hand during the attack.
Pettigrew was convicted of breach of the peace (the horse incident and smashing a bus stop) and pleaded to a separate breach of the peace and shoplifting.
The Telegraph reported that the attacked was witnessed by Hilda Cochrane:
“I heard voices shouting and joking. I got out of bed to look out the window. It was a girl and the boy.
“They were at the field. They were giggling and carrying on, then she bent down to pick grass up to try and entice the horses over.
“Eventually the horses came over, thinking they were going to get a bit of grass. The white horse came over to get a bit of grass.
“The young guy punched the horse in the face and the horse went back a bit. The boy hurt his hand and went down holding it. It was terrible.
“The girl was laughing and joking. She did it again and the horse was quite cagey. The young guy got a brick or a stone and hit the horse. I heard the thump on the horse’s chest. It went down on all fours in shock.”
Perth Sheriff Court ordered him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work as part of an 18-month payback order. He was also ordered to attend drug treatment after pleading to ‘a number of offences’.
At UK Criminal Law Blog, we are all for imposing community instead of custodial sentences where possible, the idea of focussing on rehabilitation not punishment and generally looking for the ‘good’ in people, hoping that with some help they can ‘change their ways’.
Having said that, I think I would given Pettigrew a somewhat sterner sentence. Though there is little point in sending him to custody, an unpaid word order doesn’t quite seem to mark the pernicious nature of attacking a vulnerable animal, with a weapon, (presumably to show off) with sufficient force to knock a large animal to the floor.
Now, I don’t want to turn this into a Daily Mail comments section, but perhaps readers might want to suggest alternative punishments…