Leniency over animal cruelty is perplexing
YESTERDAY’S decision by a District Court judge not to intervene in a controversial horse flogging case will cause much debate within the community. Texan stockman Hugh Meixner was spared jail by the Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to flogging a horse so severely that it had to be put down. Former Attorney-General Cameron Dick appealed the sentence on the grounds that the two-month jail sentence, wholly suspended, was too lenient. Yesterday, in a fresh sentencing submission to the District Court, police called for a jail sentence but the judge said there were no grounds for prison. The prosecution said the sentence was inadequate and did not support the gravity of the offence on the four-year-old chestnut mare and that the magistrate ‘‘ had failed to take into account animals are sensitive beings capable of feelings’’. The judge said it was not open for him to intervene in the sentence imposed and he disagreed with the police submission, noting the magistrate had taken ‘‘ a grave view of the facts and a dim view of the conduct by a professional whose job is to manage horses’’. Many within the community who followed the original decision were unimpressed that Meixner escaped serving time behind bars. Those same people will likely be similarly perplexed today.
Overstepping the mark
BY and large, the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties does a pretty good job protecting the rights of citizens by playing a watchdog role towards powerful organisations like the Criminal Misconduct Commission and police. But QCCL president Michael Cope has opened up a can of worms with his comments that he does not condemn the use of foul language towards police. Police Minister Neil Roberts weighed in to the debate yesterday saying no worker in any occupation should be expected to accept verbal abuse as part of their job. In fact, the Queensland Police Service yesterday took the extraordinary step of posting Mr Cope’s comments on a Facebook site with the message: ‘‘ We are posting this story because we believe it is an important issue for our officers, and thought you might like to debate it.’’ The site received a swag of comments from its members, condemning Mr Cope’s attitude. It is hard not to agree that Mr Cope has overstepped the mark. There are some police who no doubt take their power too far and use offensive language as a trigger to arrest people. That is a sad fact of life. However, many would argue that most of these people deserve to be locked up, especially those who are inebriated and are a danger to not only themselves but lawabiding members of the public. Mr Roberts is right when he says nobody deserves to be targeted with swear words while just doing their job. Being respectful to others, especially police, is important.