The man who viciously stabbed a miniature horse 41 times has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Reginald Ozanne appeared in Dunedin District Court this afternoon to be sentenced for wilfully ill-treating Star, causing the 10-year-old miniature horse’s death.
Ozanne, 50, pleaded guilty in March after initially denying the attack.
His denials even went as far as telling the media the police were looking at the wrong person after they searched his home in April last year.
The miniature horse, named Star, was tethered to a fence in the rural town of Waitati just north of Dunedin when Ozanne attacked him overnight on 17 February last year.
Star broke free during the attack and was later found by a man walking his dog. He died of his injuries.
Ozanne was arrested in June last year after an extensive investigation by police. He has been in custody since.
Judge Michael Crosbie told Ozanne his offending had affected not only Star’s owners, but the entire community and was even keenly felt further afield.
“The offence was cruel if not barbaric – seen in the number of wounds inflicted on this harmless family pet,” the judge said.
Star’s owner, Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, said the attack on Star deeply affected herself and her family.
“No one in my family or community could sleep very well. We were anxious and stressed.”
It affected her ability to work as she grieved deeply for the horse the family had owned for most of his life.
Ozanne visited the scene of the crime after the attack, Mayhem-Bullock said.
“I saw him standing at the horse’s paddock frequently – it made me feel sick.”
The length of time to get an arrest added to her pain and anxiety, as she feared “some unseen danger”.
“Everyone was so tense and scared and worried,” she said.
Ozanne had come to her house to plead his innocence, she said.
“It was all so weird,” she said.
The attack also affected the community of Waitati, fear causing some to move away.
“I’ve let down my children and the children of our community because we couldn’t protect them from this violent, senseless crime,” Mayhem-Bullock said.
“There was a trail of blood that couldn’t be washed away. We had to look at it again and again. Everyone did.”
“It breaks my heart … that all of my community had to go through this … and I don’t know that we’ll feel completely safe ever again.”
Ozanne’s lawyer, Deborah Henderson, said her client’s initial not guilty plea was because on the night of Star’s death he had consumed a bottle of home-brew whiskey and could not remember the offending.
Once he saw all the evidence he accepted his guilt and he remained horrified by his actions, Henderson said.
She read a letter of apology to the family on behalf of Ozanne.
Since being held in prison he had sought help from Narcotics Anonymous.
“He is here accepting responsibility … and he is ready to change,” Henderson said.
Ozanne is technically eligible for parole having already served one third of his sentence.
He has also been disqualified from owning any animals for up to 10 years.