CORNER BROOK, N.L. — A "well-respected" 79-year-old businessman has been sentenced to house arrest after hunting down and fatally shooting a dog in revenge for attacking his own pet.
George Payne had no criminal record before he shot the dog, named Sammy, twice in tiny Parson's Pond, N.L., as children played nearby, on May 11, 2017.
Sammy had attacked Payne's own dog, Trooper, according to a newly released ruling from the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial court in Corner Brook.
Convicted of firearms charges
Payne left his house, borrowed his son's .22 calibre rifle and undertook what the prosecutor called "vigilante justice."
"Mr. Payne walked through a residential neighbourhood with a loaded rifle. He stopped next to a shed, which was located close to a residential property and other residences. He fired two shots. There were children playing in the area," Judge Wayne Gorman said in his ruling.
"Mr. Payne was not acting pursuant to a colour of right or a legal justification. He was not defending himself or his property. He set out to kill Sammy as an act of revenge and did so."
Payne was convicted of two firearms charges and of injuring a dog. Gorman ordered a six-month conditional sentence — house arrest — and 19 months probation.
Sammy was a family pet and the emotional attachment of individual's and families to such animals should not be underestimated.
The judge said Payne operated a general store as well as a construction company, and has a history of community volunteerism. One character reference called him "a good natured individual with a calm demeanour," and another "honest, hardworking and very reliable."
The local newspaper, the Western Star, reported in May that Sammy had attacked Trooper previously, and killed another of Payne's dogs.
Gorman said his sentence must emphasize deterrence and denunciation.
"Sammy was a family pet and the emotional attachment of individual's and families to such animals should not be underestimated," the judge said.
"I must consider that Mr. Payne obtained and possessed a firearm that he knew was illegal for him to possess; he shot and killed a family's dog out of rage and revenge; and he endangered children playing in the area."
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But, he said, Payne did not pose a continuing danger to the public and could serve his jail term in the community. He must remain inside his home except for two hours every afternoon, or for medical or dental treatment or with permission.
He must also pay restitution of $1,877, and has been banned from owning guns for five years. Gorman did not, however, ban Payne from owning animals.
"He has no history of violent or dangerous behaviour. I view what occurred, though of great gravity, as an isolated incident by an otherwise law abiding citizen," said the judge.
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