Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has secured an assurance from the Director of Public Prosecutions that he will not stand idly by in the face of unduly lenient sentences for animal cruelty cases. The Leader of the Opposition was speaking after meeting Barra McGrory QC and senior staff at the Public Prosecution Service.
Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“I was heartened by the Prosecutor’s obvious determination to use his newly bestowed powers to refer any sentence handed down for animal cruelty to the Supreme Court, should he believe the sentence is unduly lenient.
“His ability to make referrals only came into effect on the 1st of August and no case of an unduly lenient sentence has come forward in the last seven weeks. But animal lovers should take heart that the Director has alerted all his prosecutors and regional staff to monitor sentences in cases of animal cruelty and stands ready to intervene when appropriate.
“Barra McGrory has a track record of interventions in other areas where unduly lenient sentences have seen the guilty given probation, suspended sentences or concurrent rather than consequential sentences.
“My only concern is that there is no precedent for a successful challenge for an unduly lenient sentence for animal cruelty in this jurisdiction, and therefore no guarantee the first appeal will be successful. However, I am reassured that Barra McGrory and his team take animal cruelty very seriously and will not be found wanting if the courts need challenged.”