Two men accused of setting fire to a family’s pet dog allegedly lied and lied about their whereabouts on the morning it was attacked, a court has heard.
Cody, a three-year-old collie, suffered horrific injuries after being doused in flammable liquid and set alight in August 2012. The animal was so severely hurt that her ribs and other joints were visible through the charred flesh. She had to be humanely destroyed about two weeks later.
Jamie Downey, from Chestnut Hall Avenue, Moira, and Andrew Richard Stewart, from Wellington Parks also in Moira, both 23, deny causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, namely Cody.
At Belfast Crown Court, the jury of seven women and five men were warned about the graphic and distressing nature of some evidence which includes photographs, CCTV footage and eye witness statements.
Prosecution barrister David Russell urged jurors to apply “common sense” and look “objectively and dispassionately” at the evidence presented during the week-long trial.
He said: “Flammable liquid of some type was poured on a collie dog and the dog was set alight. The dog survived for some time before being put down.”
Mr Russell said there was no disputing that the dog had been injured but argued: “The real issue in this case is whether the accused was individually or collectively responsible.”
The court heard how Cody’s owner, Natalie Agnew, let the dog outside at about 7.30am on Sunday, August 26. The animal did not return until after 10.30am when she appeared in a very bad state having clearly been attacked.
The two accused had been attending a party at a house not far from the Agnew family home. They told police they had left just after 7am and walked to a children’s play park before going their separate ways. Both men claimed to have been home by about 7.30am, the court was told.
But the prosecution said eye witnesses placed two men fitting the description of the defendants at various points about Maghaberry village and along railway tracks towards a quarry accompanied by a black and white dog around the time Cody must have been attacked.
“If one accepts the evidence in this case then the accused have told lie after lie about their whereabouts that morning,” said Mr Russell.
Cody’s death sparked widespread outrage and an online fund set up by well-wishers raised more than £2,000 towards veterinary bills. The money was subsequently donated to animal charity.
More than 60,000 people also pledged support for the Justice for Cody Facebook campaign .
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland warned jurors not to access information about the case outside of the courtroom.
He said: “The evidence is what you hear in this court room. It is on that basis that you will make your decision, not on anything you read or hear outside this court room.”
The judge added: “It is a criminal offence for a juror to seek information outside the confines of a court room.”
Members of the Agnew family are expected to give evidence Thursday.
The trial continues.