Sentence for man who killed puppy expected next week

Brent Connors pleads guilty to animal cruelty

Matt Dixon with piutbull Annabel outside the courtghouse Wednesday as a group of about 15 gather hoping for justice for Bandit.

Matt Dixon with piutbull Annabel outside the courtghouse Wednesday as a group of about 15 gather hoping for justice for Bandit.

Brent Malcolm Connors’ addiction to steroids contributed to his violence against a puppy he was caring for that left the three-month old pit bull, Bandit, dead, his defence lawyer said.

Without proof, though, it can’t be asserted the 24-year-old’s steroid use is a mitigating factor in the puppy’s beating death, Justice Ernie Quantz said.

Connors’ defence lawyer Martin Allen and Crown prosecutor Leslie Baskerville presented their submissions Wednesday morning in a sentencing hearing for Connors, who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering of an animal and breach of recognizance.

Crown stayed a third charge against him – killing an animal.

Connors will be sentenced Feb. 2.

“I’m encouraged by the fact that the judge doesn’t seem to be buying some of what the defence is saying about the steroids,” said Ryan Stringer, who listened to the hearing at the Victoria Law Courts.

The maximum sentence for animal cruelty was increased to 18 months in 2008 from the previous max of six months. Crown is asking for a sentence of three to four months to be served consecutively with a 30-day term for breaching his recognizance by possessing drugs. Baskerville also asked for a 10-year ban against owning or caring for an animal to be placed on Connors’ record.

After pleading guilty to the two charges, Connors, a muscular man with a shaved head and goatee, often hung his head or scanned the crowd who had attended the hearing.

Baskerville, who called the injuries inflicted on Bandit “abhorrent,” drew gasps and tears from the crowd of about 20 people when she described the scene of the puppy’s death.

When Victoria police attended the Traveller’s Inn City Centre at 1961 Douglas St. at 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, they found dog feces all over the room, along with the puppy’s blood on the shower curtain, floor, walls and bedsheets.

The feces, Allen said, was caused by a bowel disorder that resulted from antibiotics Connors gave the pit bull after it developed an infection in its clipped ears.

Connors had been caring for the dog, who belonged to a friend, for about three weeks prior to Bandit’s death.

An autopsy by a veterinarian found Bandit had 10 broken ribs, a broken jaw, ruptured liver and other injuries. The puppy died of blunt-force trauma.

“Because of the kind of publicity this case has received, the threats to police by the dog’s owner and others, Mr. Connors has been held in segregation” at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre for two weeks, followed by 10 days in protective custody, Allen said.

He added Connors’ difficult conditions in prison should contribute to more weight given to his time already served. Baskerville, on the other hand, asked he be given only one-for-one credit.

The Feb. 2 sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. in room 104 of the courthouse, at 850 Burdett Ave.

ecardone@vicnews.com