The packed, tiny courtroom sighed collectively as a provincial court judge sentenced the man who killed a puppy on New Year’s Day and banned him from owning an animal for a decade.
In one of the longest sentences handed down for animal cruelty in Canada, Justice Ernie Quantz ordered Brent Malcolm Connors, 24, to spend six months in jail for cruelty to a three-month-old pit bull named Bandit, plus another 30 days for breaching previous court orders. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
Connors is not allowed to own, care for, or live with an animal for 10 years.
“(Connors’) actions remain largely unexplained and there are no signs of significant remorse, although much to his credit, the offender has accepted responsibility through his early guilty plea,” Quantz said, reading his judgment.
This is not a case of justice served, said Andrew Theise, 25. He and a group of animal lovers formed a group called Justice for Bandit, which gathered thousands of signatures on a petition asking for a stiff penalty against Connors.
The petition was delivered to the court, but Quantz said his judgment reflects respect for the law, not a bowing to pressure from the public.
“That’s pretty ridiculous,” Theise said after the sentencing. “There’s so many Victorians backing this (petition) up. The only person who isn’t is Brent Connors and the judge.”
Theise said Justice for Bandit sought a sentence closer to the maximum – 18 months.
“I don’t know what you have to do to a dog to get the max sentence,” he said.
Before the sentence was handed down, Connors addressed Quantz, saying, “I’m sorry this happened. It’s really affected me. I hope this never happens again to any animal.”
While Quantz delivered his judgment, Connors hung his head low. The gallery was mostly quiet, except a sigh upon hearing the 10-year ban against owning an animal. Some in the audience cried while Quantz read out the details of previous animal cruelty cases and their sentences.
Quantz gave Connors the minimum credit for the one month he served in custody pre-trial at one-to-one, meaning he will serve five more months behind bars at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre. Afterwards, he will serve two months on probation and cannot have non-prescription drugs, firearms or knives, must complete counselling and provide DNA samples, as well as work 75 hours of community service.
Quantz came to his decision by weighing Connors’ guilty plea with “the extreme brutality of the offence and the callous disregard the offender showed for the health and well-being of the young dog … and the fact the offender appears to have continued the offence after the first neighbour attended to his door, providing him the opportunity to pause and reflect.”
• Brent Connors was breaking court orders imposed from previous drug and gun offences when he killed Bandit on New Year’s Day, 2011.
• The attack happened at Traveller’s Inn City Centre.
• Witnesses heard banging and a dog’s cries coming from one room and knocked on the door. When the noises continued, they called police.
• Officers found blood and dog feces smeared all over the room. They also found bottles of vodka, a baggy of cocaine and steroids in the room. Bandit was dead on the bed.
• Connors’ defence lawyer, Martin Allen, said he suffered from the pressures of being the son of a cop and compensated by taking steroids.
• Crown attorney Leslie Baskerville had asked for a sentence of three to four months, plus 30 days for breaching conditions, to be served consecutively.
Justice for Bandit is in talks with a lawyer to try push for harsher penalties against animal abuse, said Andrew Theise.
They’re also talking to MLAs and MPs to petition the government to approve tougher sentences.