Anthony Wennekers, 25, and Jessie Power, 21, were sentenced this month after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges after police found a videotape of the two torturing and killing a cat.
Judge Edward Ormston of the Ontario Court of Justice earned catcalls in the courtroom when he announced that he had sentenced Wennekers to time served and Power to 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends. Power will then face 18 months of house arrest and three years of probation. Both men could have faced up to 2 and a half years in jail.
Prosecutor Robin Flumerfelt told the Toronto Star that a decision would be made by the end of May on whether or not the prosecution would appeal the sentence.
Ormston’s explained that Wennekers had already severed 10 1/2 months in jail while awaiting trial, and traditionally courts double the amount of such time when considering sentencing. So, under that formula, Wennekers had already served the equivalent of nearly two years in jail.
But what apparently set off the crowd of onlookers in attendance was not so much the sentence but Ormston’s inexplicable statement that, “There are worse ways that this cat could have died.”
On the one hand certainly it is possible to take almost any death and conceive of ways in which that death could have been worse. On the other hand, Wennekers and Power hung the cat by its neck from a telephone cord, slit its throat, stabbed, kicked and then skinned the animal. Yes, this writer can conceive of an even worse death, but that’s already a pretty damning roster of acts already.
The sentence would have made more sense had Wennekers and Power divulged the name of a third man who is depicted in their videotape of the cat torture but who has so far remained unidentified. Their guilty plea can, as Ormston noted, be used to infer remorse and regret, but surely their failure to name their accomplice mitigates against this explanation.
Cat torturers’ sentences anger activists. Nancy Carr, Montreal Gazette, April 19, 2002.
Cat killers’ sentence draws anger. Nick Pron, Toronto Star, April 19, 2002.