April 2022

Former PSNI officer sentenced over dog attacks

 

A police officer who was sacked after “absolutely brutal attacks” on his two dogs has been spared jail time.

John Fleming has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years and must serve 200 hours of community service.

He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to his German Shepherd Akita cross-type dog, Ko, and Staffy crossbreed, Alfie.

The attack was partially captured in a clip shown in court on Friday, capturing Fleming kicking his Alsation and slamming his Staffordshire Terrier’s head onto a Co Londonderry country road.

Prosecutors outlined to the court how the witness spotted Fleming with his dogs on the Craigbrack Road, Eglington, on January 30, 2021.

They saw Fleming’s Alsatian-cross dog Ko had “grabbed a Springer Spaniel by the back and was shaking it.”

Fleming kicked Ko until the dog let go and the Alsatian “cowered before him”.

But Fleming then bent down, picked it up by its head and slammed the dog “hard onto the ground,” the court heard.

The prosecutor said the witness turned on his jeep’s ignition and recorded the rest of the incident on dashcam.

During the footage played to the court, Fleming is seen continuing to kick at the Alsatian a number of times before the animal gets up and runs back onto the road.

The former officer, wearing a yellow high vis jacket, can be seen swinging five full-force kicks at Ko.

At least three of his kicks connect with the animal, which is then seen running way.

Striding a short distance down the road after Ko, Fleming appears to stop his husband Daniel Fleming-Cairo from stroking Alfie, a Staffordshire Terrier.

But he then picks up the smaller dog by its scruff and hindquarters, raising Alfie above head height, arms fully stretched, before slamming the animal into tarmac.

The video records Fleming repeating the move – lifting Alfie nearly to head height, and slamming him into the ground.

However the footage is cut off when a vehicle drives in front of the camera, obscuring Fleming and his husband from view.

Prosecuting counsel said while there was no audio on the recording, the witness claimed he had “blasted the car horn and shouted something along the lines of ‘stop beating that dog’.”

However Fleming’s reaction was to turn around and begin “shouting and posturing aggressively,“ the court was told.

There were confrontational words exchanged between the men, with Fleming trying to open the vehicle door.

Mr Fleming’s dogs Ko, Alfie and another were taken from him following a report to animal welfare officers.

The court also heard that when he was initially questioned about the incident, Fleming claimed his actions were “proportional.”

He said: “Obviously I am remorseful that I had to hit my dogs… [but] I wouldn’t have acted if I didn’t think that they weren’t correct… Do I regret acting? No… It’s the circumstances I regret that it even happened.”

When the witness’ account was put to him, Fleming “laughed throughout” that portion of the interview and accused the witness “of a public disorder offence,” the court was told.

He said it was a “very narrow decision” as to whether Fleming went to custody or not and saw the community service as a direct alternative to three months behind bars.

The judge imposed a 200-hour Community Service Order, banned Fleming from keeping any animal for ten years, and ordered him to pay £2,000 towards the £12,000 in court costs.