Pilot fined for attack on dogs and owners in row over road access

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, 12:00am

A commercial pilot was fined HK$12,000 yesterday for an assault on neighbours and their dogs in a row over access to a private road.

Australian Barry Fitzgerald, 54, was trying to stop several neighbours walking their dogs on the road outside his house in Ho Man Tin. The court heard he thought outsiders were restricted from using the cul-de-sac near his house in Kadoorie Avenue. He pleaded guilty to two assault and two animal cruelty charges yesterday at Kowloon City Court.

At 9pm on August 25 last year, Fitzgerald heard barking and left his home to investigate. He tried to stop the group from walking down the road, insisting that section of the road was private. His neighbours, with six or seven dogs, argued with him about his claim.

Fitzgerald punched Briton Philip Morais in the face, cutting his lip, and hit Mr Morais' Filipino helper, Reynaldo Fuller, on the forehead. He also kicked two Pomeranians. The court heard he attacked them because he felt threatened when encircled by a large group of men and dogs late at night.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai said Fitzgerald was a well-respected professional for whom colleagues had written mitigation letters.

Considering 'the particular circumstance', she fined him HK$3,000 for each of the four charges. She said use of force could not be condoned but the group had caused a disturbance.

The Kadoorie Avenue estate office confirmed residents were allowed into the nearby cul-de-sac even if they did not live in it.

Barrister Michael Delaney said his client 'reluctantly' entered his plea because he had acted in self-defence. His client's actions had been out of character and he felt substantial remorse.

Fitzgerald has lived in Hong Kong for 17 years and is within months of retirement.