Man allegedly used blowtorch on dog when it tried to defend owner

Albert McKnight 16 July 2021
ACT Courts

A man is facing court over animal cruelty and assault charges. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A man accused of taking a blowtorch to a dog’s face has been allowed to leave custody on bail ahead of his next court appearance.

Clarke John Menzies, 45, fronted the ACT Magistrates Court via audio-visual link on Thursday (15 July) after previously pleading not guilty to charges of assault and animal cruelty.

In court documents, police allege the Theodore resident was in south Canberra in February 2021 when he got into an argument with a woman.

He allegedly struck her in the face, causing her lip to bleed, then got what police said was a “black metal dividing gate” and used it to hit her arms and hands.

Police said the woman’s dog saw the alleged violence and tried to defend her by biting Mr Menzies on his leg.

Mr Menzies then allegedly left to get a butane blowtorch. Returning to find the dog near its owner, he turned on the blowtorch and allegedly began screaming at the pet as he pushed the flame into its face.

The woman said she could smell her pet’s fur burning from the heat.


READ ALSO: Animal cruelty complaints increase in the ACT, dozens of animals seized by RSPCA


Mr Menzies was in court on Thursday after allegedly breaching his bail conditions. The prosecution applied to revoke his bail.

His lawyer, Emma Bayliss of Boxall Legal, said his animal cruelty and assault charges would likely be resolved with negotiations, but she was still waiting to receive legal documents for the case.

She said her client had been doing well on bail, but then there had been a significant deterioration in his mental health before the alleged breach.

Ms Bayliss said Mr Menzies had spent two weeks in the Canberra Hospital on a mental health order.

She said he had been offered accommodation with a housing program, and accommodation and mental health treatment could ameliorate any risks of possible offending if his bail was continued.


READ ALSO: Kitten recovers from air rifle shots to eye and body, finds forever home


The prosecutor argued Mr Menzies’ alleged offences were “very serious”, and the woman had previously said she was afraid of him being released into the community.

She also said his criminal history suggested he had a disregard for court orders.

Magistrate James Lawton said records indicated Mr Menzies had a long-standing mental health issue and he had been taking depot injections in custody.

He continued bail and adjourned the case to 20 July.


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