Man acquitted after firing airgun over dog barking

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 4:07am

A man was acquitted yesterday of charges of cruelty to animals and possession of an imitation firearm after he had fired plastic pellets with an airgun in response to barking from a neighbour's dogs.

The verdict, handed down at Sha Tin Court, came four days after a man was jailed for three months for strangling a cat.

David Wilson, 55, fired three shots towards four dogs owned by a neighbour on October 3 after they had barked at him as he took out garbage from his home in Kei Ling Ha San Wai in Ma On Shan.

The neighbour saw Wilson's actions from an upstairs window and told her landlord, who then alerted police after one of the dogs was found to have been injured. Wilson was caught on CCTV firing the airgun. He previously pleaded not guilty to the two charges.

Magistrate Merinda Chow Yin-chu said it could not be proven the injured dog's reddened right eye and five scabs below it were caused by Wilson's actions.

Experts were unable to determine when and how the dog was hurt, meaning the charge of cruelty to animals could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt, Chow said.

However, the magistrate did not believe Wilson's testimony that he was afraid of the dogs, or that he was aiming at the tin roof above the dogs so as to create noise to "condition" and train them to stay away.

"There are many ways to train dogs ... but certainly not with a gun," Chow said. "This idea is totally absurd."

Wilson was acquitted of the charge of having an imitation firearm because it depended on whether the first charge stood, Chow said, as it would only be a crime to own an imitation firearm if it was used to harm.