PROTESTERS reacted angrily to the freeing of man who laughed as he kicked to death a kangaroo whose carcass he later dragged behind his car through central Wodonga.
Magistrate Stella Stuthridge described Nigel Franks’ actions as “appalling” as she sentenced him to six months’ jail, suspended for 12 months.
The Australian Society for Kang aroos protesters gave Franks, 20, a hostile reception yesterday, chanting as they followed him and his family when they left Wodonga Court.
“It’s really disturbing I’ve got to admit,” Ms Stuthridge said.
Society spokeswoman Helena Jedjud said the sentence — and the dropping of an aggravated cruelty charge related to the kangaroo’s death — was “disappointing”.
“We felt there was strong evidence of cruelty to both animals (the kangaroo and her joey) and that should have affected the sentences imposed,” Ms Jedjud said.
“It’s not just us but the community has been outraged as to what’s happened.”
Franks originally faced nine charges — two counts each of aggravated cruelty against a kangaroo, offensive behaviour, driving in a dangerous manner and breach of a community corrections order.
But defence solicitor Mario Vaccaro argued one of the aggravated counts of cruelty, to the mother, could not be supported, nor could other charges.
Mr Vaccaro said that was because cars hitting kangaroos was a common occurrence, as was euthanasing a seriously injured animal.
Franks eventually pleaded guilty to six counts — of careless driving and knocking down the kangaroo with his car, aggravated cruelty to the joey, creating a public nuisance, unregistered driving, breaching a community corrections order and dangerous driving.
The last charge related to dragging the dead kangaroo through Wodonga.
Police prosecutor Sen-Constable Wayne Taylor said Franks, then 19, was at a Holmes Court, Wodonga, house on January 11 with a group of other men when he and two others — aged 17 and 18 — went for a drive to a McDonald’s restaurant about 1.30am.
They left after being told an ice cream machine wasn’t working. That’s when they decided to drive to the Huon Hill lookout.
“He has struck a kangaroo with the car,” Sen-Constable Taylor said.
“They got out of the car and the animal was prostrate on the ground, only able to lift its head because of it being struck.”
Sen-Constable Taylor said Franks laughed as he then kicked the kangaroo in the head several times, killing the animal.
“He’s then removed the joey from the pouch,” he said.
Sen-Constable Taylor said one of Franks’ companions asked him whether he was going to put the joey out of its misery, to which Franks replied as he threw the animal over his shoulder into the bush: “No, it’ll only die anyway”.
Franks tied the kangaroo to the back of the car with a rope with the aim of dragging the animal by its neck all the way back to McDonald’s restaurant.
The kangaroo was dragged through parts of Wodonga, including Holmes Court, De Kerilleau Drive and Lawrence Street before being dumped as they stopped at the traffic lights in High Street.
The rope was dumped in a stormwater drain.
Sen-Constable Taylor said police had received much public assistance as the result of media coverage of what happened and, two days later Franks, had contacted police and gone to the station for an interview.
Mr Vaccaro said Franks had been living for the past few months with his father near Tallandoon, but would move to Orbost to live with his mother once the case was finalised.
“He’s had very serious threats on Facebook,” he said.
“There’s been a fairly big backlash to him and his family as a consequence of his actions.”
Ms Stuthridge said although Franks had not committed aggravated cruelty to the kangaroo, “the joey’s a different kettle of fish”.
“It’s a public exhibition of a carcass,” she said of him dragging the kangaroo.
“I think I earlier made it clear that the offences are appalling.”
Franks had his driver’s licence cancelled for six months, was placed on a 12-month community corrections order and fined $750.