20 October 2022

Charges dismissed against man accused of forcing knife down puppy's throat

| Albert McKnight

Stephen George Button leaves court after being granted bail earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

WARNING: Graphic content.

A man accused of killing a three-month-old French bulldog puppy by shoving a knife down its throat has had all charges against him dismissed by a magistrate who said he was uncertain of where the truth lay in the matter.

Stephen George Button faced an ACT Magistrates Court hearing earlier this year charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal, as well as other unrelated alleged offences.

When announcing his decision on Thursday (20 October), Magistrate Robert Cook said he found the complainant to be argumentative and her evidence to be largely unsupported, remarking she had been “vague and unclear” when it came to one charge.

However, he also said he didn’t accept 55-year-old Button’s version of events either and so was left uncertain of where the truth lay.

Magistrate Cook said the animal cruelty case was largely based on the complainant’s version of events and if he was not satisfied her evidence was true, then he had to acquit.

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The woman said in April 2020 she heard what sounded like “an animal screeching”. She ran to the sound and alleged she saw Button crouched down “with my pet dog with a knife down its throat”.

“There was blood basically pouring out of it,” she said.

“The dog was basically drowning. It was gurgling and its eyes went dead.”

She said blood covered the floor and alleged Button said words to the effect of, “He’s a bad dog. This is what we do with dogs in the bush that are bad”.

She alleged he told her he’d bury her puppy “in the fields”, then said he’d bury it in a backyard.

The complainant said she was shocked, disgusted and went to bed. She also said she didn’t immediately report the puppy’s alleged death because she was covering up for Button.

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A friend of the woman said at one stage she asked him to dig up the backyard to look for the puppy’s body, but while digging up the ground, he couldn’t find the body.

Magistrate Cook said Button admitted the puppy died around April 2020 but claimed he got out of the yard and was hit by a vehicle on the street. He also said he buried the puppy in the backyard.

However, Magistrate Cook said there was no evidence he heard the sound of a vehicle or a vehicle hitting a dog at the time.

The magistrate ultimately said the animal cruelty charge could not be established and dismissed all charges.

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