Man cleared of cruelty after throwing dogs off fifth floor balcony 'because he was epileptic'

Pets suffered unnecessarily in fall from fifth floor, but owner 'unable to control himself'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 January, 2014, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 9:28am

A man who threw two dogs to their deaths from his fifth-floor luxury home has been cleared of animal cruelty on the grounds that he was suffering an epileptic seizure and unable to control his behaviour.

Lam Yiu-hang, 35, hurled the animals into the street from the Tai Wai residence on the morning of October 18, 2012, after smashing his furniture, Sha Tin Court heard yesterday.

His mother called the police after failing to restrain him.

Describing the deaths as "very tragic", Deputy Magistrate Ho Chun-yiu said Lam had caused unnecessary suffering.

But he ruled Lam was not guilty of cruelty to the animals as he was not in a position to control his behaviour at the time.

Defence counsel Kevin Egan said Lam, who had pleaded not guilty, had wrestled since he was 18 with grand mal epilepsy originating from encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain.

"It gives him severe mood swings," Egan said.

"It was during one of these episodes that he threw [the dogs from the fifth floor]."

The prosecution had submitted a report during the trial by psychiatrist Chung Wai-sau that found Lam was "aware" of what he was doing at the time.

But Egan argued there was a difference between being aware of one's behaviour and being able to control it.

In a report produced by the defence, neurologist Brian Choa wrote: "Lam was not in control of his faculties when he caused extensive damage to objects in his home and threw two dogs out of one window that morning."

Ho said Lam's case was different from previous cases in which the animals suffered for a long time before dying.

Earlier this year the Kwun Tong court sentenced two men who took part in kicking a cat around like a ball to 16 months in jail, the heaviest sentence a Hong Kong court has imposed for a case of animal cruelty.

On the same day a man convicted of poisoning a stray dog to a "slow and painful" death was sentenced to two months in jail.

Cruelty to animals in Hong Kong carries a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment and a fine of up to HK$200,000.