A man who took part in the callous slaughter of a pet goat in Greymouth claimed through his lawyer yesterday to be "an animal lover".
Michael Ryan Newcombe, 18, was appearing for sentence in the Greymouth District Court on charges of animal cruelty, driving while disqualified, driving with excess breath-alcohol and unlawfully taking a Toyota Hilux valued at $6000.
However, Judge Raoul Neave told him that it was his act of "imbecility and cruelty" that had almost put him in jail.
Newcombe and another teenager, goaded on by another in the car, decided to kill the goat on impulse while driving on June 16. While one man held the animal, the other stabbed it in the neck, causing it to stagger around bleating in pain bleeding profusely.
The offenders fled the scene when they realised they were being watched. A neighbour eventually put the goat out of its misery.
Lawyer George Linder said the strong prospect of jail had awoken Newcombe. The "penny had dropped" and he realised he did not choose his friends well and was easily led.
"He knows these were stupid, silly actions. He's very remorseful and loves animals, this is not his usual behaviour."
Mr Linder opposed the request for an order for emotional harm for the owners of the goat, saying Newcombe could not afford it, but that submission angered the judge.
"He's got enough money to drink. So all the money he's not putting to drink can go to the reparation," Judge Neave said.
"You told police that you were being a dickhead. It's hard to disagree with that description," the judge said to Newcombe.
"You have come very close to a sentence of imprisonment here."
Newcombe was instead sentenced to four months' community detention, 150 hours' community work, 12 months' supervision and $500 reparation for the owners of the goat at $50 a week.