Stock­man’s hall of shame

Judge strikes out horse cru­elty ap­peal

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - by Roanne John­son roanne. john­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

A TEXAS stock­man who flogged a horse so se­verely it had to be put down has once again walked-free af­ter an ap­peal failed to over­turn his sus­pended sen­tence.

In the Townsville District Court yes­ter­day, po­lice asked for Hugh Meixner to serve jail time but Judge Stu­art Dur­ward found there were no legal grounds to im­prison the 47-year-old.

The ringer was sen­tenced to two months’ jail sus­pended for 15 months when he pleaded guilty on Oc­to­ber 19 in the Bowen Mag­is­trates Court to an­i­mal cru­elty un­der the An­i­mal Care & Pro­tec­tion Act ( 2001).

The de­fen­dant ad­mit­ted to us­ing a rope to lash the fouryear-old chest­nut mare af­ter it re­fused to be loaded into a trailer at By­er­wen Sta­tion near New­lands south of Collinsville on July 9.

A month later on Au­gust 11, the horse was euthanised due to its in­juries, in­clud­ing var­i­ous grazes, welts, rope burn and bruis­ing.

Meixner’s ini­tial sen­tence sparked pub­lic out­rage and calls for the Texan’s de­por­ta­tion and re­quests for a heav­ier sen­tence from out­raged an­i­mal lovers, the RSPCA and lo­cal poli-ti­cians.

Po­lice pros­e­cu­tor bar­ris­ter Terry Gar­diner ar­gued dur­ing the ap­peal, lodged by De­tec­tive Se­nior-Sergeant Michael John­son, that the sus­pended term was ‘‘ un­rea­son­able and un­just’’.

He claimed the mag­is­trate failed to re­ally take into ac­count that an­i­mals were sen­si­tive be­ings ca­pa­ble of feel­ing, per­ceiv­ing and re­spond­ing emo­tion­ally.

‘‘ They are vul­ner­a­ble and de­pen­dent on hu­mans for their care and man­age­ment and that hasn’t been given suf­fi­cient weight by the lower court.’’

‘‘ I dis­agree with the po­lice sub­mis­sion . . . the mag­is­trate took a grave view of the facts and a dim view of the con­duct by a pro­fes­sional whose job is to man­age horses,’’ Judge Dur­ward said.

De­fence bar­ris­ter Harvey Wal­ters said Meixner did not set out to de­lib­er­ately maim, in­jure or tor­ture the horse.

Mr Wal­ters pointed out the de­fen­dant’s ‘‘ pow­er­ful mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors’’ of demon­strated re­morse, co­op­er­a­tion with the owner and po­lice, plus the fact he paid vet bills and $ 2500 in resti­tu­tion for the an­i­mal.

Hugh Meixner out­side court yes­ter­day

Photo: ROANNE JOHN­SON

OUT­SIDE COURT: Texan stock­man Hugh Meixner with de­fence lawyer Terry Browne

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