03/23/2015 01:23 EDT | Updated 05/23/2015 05:59 EDT

Crown wants stiffest sentence possible for Calgary man who tortured, killed dog and cat

CALGARY - An Alberta Crown prosecutor is asking for the court to impose a "new high-water mark" in the sentencing of a man who abused, starved and killed a dog and cat.

Nicolino Camardi, 19, has been in custody since he was arrested in May on animal cruelty charges. He pleaded guilty in December to wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal.

The Calgary Humane Society began an investigation in January 2014 when a starved dog was found dead in a back alley with tape around its muzzle. A dead cat was found in the same area a week later with green painter's tape covering most of its face.

An examination at a veterinarian's office determined the dog had suffered chronic malnourishment before its death. The cat had been strangled and had injuries to its head, tail and hind limbs.

"I submit that among the aggravating factors the one that is the most obvious is the stark horror of these offences. These offences were characterized by gratuitous and unprovoked violence against these animals," prosecutor Gord Haight said during sentencing arguments on Monday.

"These were cases of shocking and callous neglect."

Haight is asking Justice George Gaschler to impose a sentence of 2 1/2 to three years — plus probation — with 15 months of credit for time served.

He said his request is "higher than those cases at the higher end of the range" of animal abuse.

"This case demands a high-water mark," said Haight. "If not this case, then what in terms of giving a severe sentence?"

Haight also is asking that Camardi face a lifetime ban on owning any animals.

Camardi's lawyer said his client has expressed remorse for his actions by pleading guilty.

Jack Kelly told the judge that his client was using drugs at the time, is from a dysfunctional family and committed his first crime when he was 10.

The defence lawyer suggested that a sentence of 18 months would be more appropriate

Haight told court that the amount of public outrage over the abuse of two animals in Camardi's care cannot be ignored.

"The public is united in its revulsion to all of the circumstances of these crimes."

Haight said failure to give a strong sentence could cause the public to "lose faith" in the administration of justice.

Camardi offered a brief apology at the end of the sentencing hearing.

"I just want to say I understand what I did. It was horrible," he said.

"I know that I can do it (change) and am really sorry for the things I've done. The public and everyone has a right to feel the way they do.

"I know I can change, though."

Camardi is to be sentenced Friday.

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