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Possum beater on video not convicted

By Tammy Ven Dange - 26 February 2015 48

Baby possum cared for by RSPCA ACT

I am outraged by the results of one of our most recent animal cruelty cases. As published in The Canberra Times today, Lyons resident Domaneco Zizi escaped conviction after attacking a possum with a pole and eventually killing it.

In this case, our RSPCA ACT inspectors received actual video footage of the attack.

Furthermore, although we were unable to locate the body, Mr. Zizi confessed to killing the possum in the inspector interview and later pleaded guilty in court.

Despite this evidence, the magistrate said that while the incident was “unpleasant,” the court had seen no evidence of harm or injury caused to the possum.

I have no idea what further evidence our inspectors would have had to collect to result in a conviction. RSPCA ACT spends a ridiculous amount of time and money responding to complaints, investigating matters and preparing documents to be submitted to court to prosecute. We do not prosecute every valid complaint, we only prosecute those that we feel we can win and that would be in the public interest to do so.

I would personally like to ask the magistrate if her decision would have been different had the possum been a dog or a cat instead.

The Animal Welfare Act does not discriminate. It does not say that a person over the age of 80 is exempt from being a criminal. It does not say that the value of one animal life is higher than another. And regardless of whether or not people like possums as much as puppies, all animals deserve a humane death – not one that involves a lure, an absolute beating and then a final blow.

All of us at RSPCA ACT feel completely defeated by this case. The magistrate’s decision signals to every other person that despite being a protected species, the life of a possum doesn’t matter. If you want to use them as piñatas, apparently we can’t stop you!

I can only hope that the Canberra community is as outraged as we are.

Tammy Ven Dange is CEO of RSPCA ACT. 

What’s Your opinion?


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48 Responses to
Possum beater on video not convicted
Mysteryman 6:00 pm 26 Feb 15

Tammy Ven Dange said :

Mysteryman said :

I don’t think the video shows cruelty. I think it shows stupidity. The animal involved was fine, as the magistrate noted.

The possum was actually killed by this man, and he admitted it during the inspector’s interview. What makes you think he was “fine?”

“Magistrate Beth Campbell described the incident as “unpleasant conduct”, but said the court had seen no evidence of harm or injury caused to the possum.”

That’s what. There is no mention anywhere in the Canberra Times article of the possum being killed.

Steven Bailey 5:52 pm 26 Feb 15

Absolutely disgusting. Legislation and the enforcement of legislation has not kept up with the expectations of the community. Generally, I steer clear of excessively punitive measures against those who break the law, but for those who commit crimes against the elderly, children, and animals, our laws are not strong enough.

When it comes to saying no to cruelty to animals, the ACT is thwarted by lazy lawmakers, and a sometimes a too lenient and arrogant judiciary.

In 2016, I will be leading the Australian Sex Party in the ACT to fight for stronger and compulsorily enforced measures against those who act cruelly to animals. I’d like to see other parties do the same.

Tammy, without knowing the case, I find it hard to believe that an appeal would not be successful. The judiciary has made a mistake in interpreting the evidence.

Evilomlap 5:31 pm 26 Feb 15

Yes, possums can be disruptive. So can magpies when they swoop you. It’s irrational to hate a creature for it’s behaviour around us (and obviously it’s wrong to harm them for it) considering they do it without malice of any kind and were here doing what they do for thousands of years before we came along. It’s *they* who have adapted to us, not the other way around. And I think they’ve adapted as best they can.

Tammy Ven Dange 5:19 pm 26 Feb 15

Mysteryman said :

I don’t think the video shows cruelty. I think it shows stupidity. The animal involved was fine, as the magistrate noted.

The possum was actually killed by this man, and he admitted it during the inspector’s interview. What makes you think he was “fine?”

Tammy Ven Dange 5:11 pm 26 Feb 15

Is the RSPCA planning on appealing?

The chances of us winning an appeal after this ruling is very low. I would actually be surprised if they would agree to hear the appeal, and honestly we just can’t afford to spend any more resources on this case.

Maya123 4:49 pm 26 Feb 15

Mixed feelings about this. I don’t like the possum being hit, but they are in plague proportions and can do a lot of damage. Is it correct that the possum was getting in the man’s house ceiling cavity? I’ve seen the ceiling damage a possum has done when after wetting a spot on the ceiling, eventually it fell through that spot, where it then panicked, ran up the highest point and sh** all over it. The highest point was a projector, and I was called to deal with a sh** on and in projector.

Mysteryman 4:41 pm 26 Feb 15

Affirmative Action Man said :

I’m not outraged at all. I think the magistrate demonstrated common sense & I’m sure lots of people will agree with him.

Agreed. I posted a comment about this earlier but apparently it didn’t pass moderation, although I’ve no idea why.

I don’t think the video shows cruelty. I think it shows stupidity. The animal involved was fine, as the magistrate noted.

Affirmative Action M 3:58 pm 26 Feb 15

I’m not outraged at all. I think the magistrate demonstrated common sense & I’m sure lots of people will agree with him.

Heavs 3:48 pm 26 Feb 15

kittenlicks said :

I cannot believe the outcome of this hearing. Absolutely appalling. Don’t care how old he is, or how “out of character” it was, there should have been some sort of real punishment, not just getting off on a good behaviour bond.
But this is Canberra, what else would we expect??

Was it out of character though? Unless he was deeply unlucky that someone just randomly happened to have their video camera out and filming into his backyard that particular day. Guy obviously has a history of this that has been reported previously and they caught him red handed and he still got off. Pretty curious decision really.

fabforty 3:37 pm 26 Feb 15

What I also found appalling was the Canberra Times website actually having the video available.

JazzyJess 1:52 pm 26 Feb 15

I am gobsmacked, who can I complain to? This is just so out of line with community sentiment.

kittenlicks 1:45 pm 26 Feb 15

I cannot believe the outcome of this hearing. Absolutely appalling. Don’t care how old he is, or how “out of character” it was, there should have been some sort of real punishment, not just getting off on a good behaviour bond.
But this is Canberra, what else would we expect??

chewy14 1:41 pm 26 Feb 15

Isn’t this the same type of thing as a older drink driver getting off the charge because of their previous good record?

“Please your honour, I have forty years of not killing possums behind me, this was a one off mistake, I should be found not guilty.”

Ben_Dover 12:55 pm 26 Feb 15

How much do we pay these f***wits to (miss)administer our “justice” system here?

neanderthalsis 12:49 pm 26 Feb 15

I can only hope that the Canberra community is as outraged as we are.

Well my little corner of Canberra Community outraged, mad as hell in fact. Does the RSPCA record its interviews and are these interviews treated in the same manner as police interviews by the courts?

Is the RSPCA planning on appealing?

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