Craig Ronald Whitney was sentenced over a horrific killing of a puppy. Photo: Annette Dew
Craig Ronald Whitney was sentenced over a horrific killing of a puppy. Photo: Annette Dew

Puppy killer’s horrific history of ‘brutal beatings’

WARNING: GRAPHIC

CRAIG Ronald Whitney loaded his vomiting, two-month-old puppy Layla into a courier vehicle on November 30 last year hoping to find a moment in his packed schedule to drop her at a vet.

Hours later, Layla's body washed up in a weighted-down Aldi shopping bag on a beach on Brisbane's northside.

A vet later likened the catalogue of injuries across the white Maremma sheepdog's body as consistent with her having been run over by a car or crushed.

But Redcliffe Magistrates Court heard yesterday the injuries, some still unexplained, were the result of a "brutal and sustained" beating from Whitney's hands after he "snapped" at the sound of the sick dog's unrelenting crying.

Craig Ronald Whitney leaves court after being sentenced. Pic Annette Dew
Craig Ronald Whitney leaves court after being sentenced. Pic Annette Dew

Whitney, 33, from Kippa-Ring, initially denied killing the puppy to an RSPCA investigator but after being confronted with overwhelming evidence eventually admitted to it, according to a statement of facts tendered in court.

"He said that Layla kept crying and crying and he lost control," the statement says.

"He said he beat the puppy with an open hand, pushing her into the car seat and punching her in the chest area. He said that Layla eventually went unconscious and died sometime after lunch. He then finished his courier run for the day and on his way home, he stopped at the beach and dumped the body."

One of the puppies siezed by the RSPCA after a Maremma sheepdog was found washed up dead.
One of the puppies siezed by the RSPCA after a Maremma sheepdog was found washed up dead.

Layla's likely cause of death, according to an RSPCA vet, was haemorrhaging of a severely traumatised and macerated liver.

But even before the blows that crushed her liver, Layla had received bruising on her head, particularly the left side of her skull. A vet also recorded bruising to her diaphragm and kidneys, a cracked rib, "unusually severe" internal bleeding and bloody fluid oozing from her nose.

Whitney pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of animal cruelty and two counts of breaching his duty of care to an animal. The duty of care charges related to failing to provide veterinary treatment for Layla's vomiting and diarrhoea and the untreated broken leg of another puppy, Daisy, that was rescued by a neighbour after yelping in pain for three days.

The RSPCA found other dogs had also suffered horrific abuse. Photo: Supplied
The RSPCA found other dogs had also suffered horrific abuse. Photo: Supplied

Another puppy that he took to a vet in September remains unaccounted for and in 2013 he was warned for allegedly beating a Boxer-cross called Zeus with a cricket bat, according to court documents.

RSPCA Prosecutor Michael Williams said Layla's injuries were "consistent with a brutal and sustained beating".

"It's clear that the dog suffered significantly," he told the court.

Magistrate Walter Erich sentenced Whitney to two year's probation, fined him $5,000 and prohibited him from owning any animals for five years.

He also ordered Whitney to pay more than $12,000 in veterinary and boarding costs for the care of two dogs that have been with the RSPCA since investigations began late last year. No conviction was recorded.

Craig Ronald Whitney got off with no conviction recorded. Photo: Annette Dew
Craig Ronald Whitney got off with no conviction recorded. Photo: Annette Dew

Outside the court, RSPCA prosecutions officer Tracey Jackson said authorities were concerned that a number of dogs Whitney owned had "ended up with injuries".

"We were satisfied that the court took the offending seriously and we just hope that this sends a message to people that animal cruelty won't be tolerated," she said.



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