Hong Kong court orders psychiatric evaluation of man who tortured cat for hours

Truck driver to be sentenced on October 25 after pleading guilty to animal abuse and weapons possession

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 1:38pm

Tuen Mun Court is seeking a psychiatric analysis for a truck driver who tortured a stray cat for two hours in Tai Po last May.

Lee Siu-hang, 27, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of weapons possession after he was caught carrying two sharpened 22.5cm long daggers two days after the abuse took place. He had earlier admitted to one count of animal cruelty before another magistrate. He will be sentenced on October 25.

The court previously heard that Lee spent nearly two hours on May 27 capturing the cat at Kam Po Bicycle Shop in Tai Po, forcing it into a container, which he then turned upside down and shook. He also poked the animal with items including a stick, metal rod, tongs and a broom.

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Footage provided to the court showed Lee had tied the cat to a leash and then dragged it along the ground. He then grabbed the animal by its hind legs and tail, swung and threw it onto a two-metre high canopy multiple times, causing it fall to the ground and hit a ladder.

Prosecutors said the cat tried to escape by jumping and running away, but to no avail.

Lee twice pretended he was doing something else so passers-by would not notice the abuse.

It was not until two hours later that Lee released the cat, kicked and pushed it until it eventually disappeared from view.

Lee left the scene soon after. The cat re-emerged from hiding nearly four hours later.

Investigators were previously told that Lee tied up the animal out of revenge because the cat had bitten him when he fed it.

Lee earlier told police that he kicked the animal once, but could not remember what he did afterwards.

The abuse was uncovered when police received a report that the bicycle shop was a mess, prompting investigators to screen the CCTV footage.

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Defence counsel Chu Wai-kei said on Tuesday that his client did not require psychiatric assessment before sentencing as Lee had already been remanded for an extended period of time, and he acknowledged imprisonment was unavoidable.

“He understood that it’s not right to abuse animals,” Chu said while summarising Lee’s mitigation letter.

But magistrate Li Chi-ho maintained there was a need for assessment because of the cruel methods adopted.

The cat was never found and could not be physically examined, but after viewing the footage, veterinary behaviourist Cynthia Smillie concluded that it had shown extreme distress and learned helplessness after repeatedly failing to escape. She found the cat could not exercise its normal reflexes, which normally allow the animal to land on its feet.

Smillie said that its physical injuries would have included fractures, bruising, internal injury and neurological damage.

Meanwhile, veterinary surgeon Fiona Woodhouse suggested the animal’s fear could be seen from the time it took to emerge from hiding. She also concluded that the awkward landings from such a height would risk damaging the musculo-skeletal system, and that holding and swinging the cat by its limbs would put excessive strain on the skeletal and soft tissue structure, causing pain.