A FAMILY near Woodend were afraid to let their pets outside after a hunter from Melbourne entered their property and shot a kangaroo in the head with a crossbow, a court has been told.
James Johnathon Calleja, 34, was expected to be sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to three animal cruelty charges, two trespass charges and weapons offences.
The magistrate instead ordered a pre-sentencing report and Calleja will be sentenced on September 12. Magistrate Lance Martin had earlier raised the prospect of a jail sentence for the crime.
The court heard Calleja and his brother had driven to the Ashbourne property on August 12 in an unregistered car with no number plates before getting decked out in camouflage gear and arming themselves with a crossbow.
Police were called to the property after Calleja shot the kangaroo in the head, and the crossbow and bolts were seized.
The kangaroo, known as “Spot”, lived with the arrow in his head for almost a month before wildlife officers were able to tranquilize him and perform surgery.
Spot – a 75-kilogram male eastern grey kangaroo – died of shock on September 12, three days after surgery.
Police raided Calleja’s Sunbury residence on October 2, where a Fang crossbow and 28 crossbow bolts were found. Police interviewed Calleja in Woodend the following day.
The court heard the family was inside the house at the time of the shooting.
The prosecution summary stated the family had considered Spot as a pet.
“This kangaroo was a frequent visitor… and was known by the witnesses and their children as ‘Spot’,” the summary read.
“The witnesses and children saw Spot with the crossbow in its head and were quite distressed.
“The children refused to let their animals outside as they were petrified that the accused would return and kill the animals.
“Spot the kangaroo… was looked upon as a pet.”
Calleja had expressed his regret during an earlier court hearing in Castlemaine. During Thursday’s hearing, he maintained he had been the “victim” of negative media coverage.
A number of animal rights activists sat in the court gallery during the hearing.
Magistrate Martin had ordered Calleja to complete a pre-sentencing report after an earlier hearing, but it was yet to be completed.
“Because you are representing yourself, a pre-sentencing report would assist me in imposing the sentence,” he said.
Calleja will be sentenced on September 12.