Billie-jo Baker will campaign against domestic violence

The owner of the pets killed with horrific cruelty by Benjamin Wright has said he should have got longer than twelve months in prison.

Billie-jo Baker was in court for the sentencing. She said she thought he would get four years – one for each animal.

Wright admitted killing her three dogs and a cat with “aggravated cruelty” by swinging them against hard objects. In the case of the cat, he swung it by the tail against a car so hard that the tail was dislodged from the spine.

The court heard that he had done it out of spite, and Marie-jo Baker (with whom Wright was living in a caravan near Deepwater) said she had no doubt it was done to spite her after a row.

She told The Glen Innes Examiner that she wanted the information about the case made public: “I just want to make a stand for animals and also for women against domestic violence.”

She called her animals her “furbabies”. The dogs were named Darby, Chester and Ella and the cat was called Missie. She’s had her arm tattooed in their memory.

“They weren’t just animals. They were part of the family – and I brought them home in a box”, she said.

Magistrate Michael Holmes had been debating whether Wright should be sent to prison or ordered to have treatment for mental health issues. In the end, he decided on prison to send a message to the community that “the death of animals cannot be of such a gruesome nature”.

Mr Holmes said the sentence of 12 months for aggravated cruelty had been reduced by a quarter because of Wright’s guilty pleas.

“I have no other option but to send you to jail”, said the magistrate. He said it was a ”horrible event and the actions were of a deliberate nature”.

The court heard earlier that Wright had told the police that he was a qualified slaughterman and had dispatched the animals humanely because they were ill.

But the court heard that a vet who had examined the carcasses found no ailments, and thought they had died in great pain.