Ex’s cat killed with zip tie in horrific string of crimes
Warning: graphic content.
"GRATUITOUS cruelty" was just one of the terms used by the judge to describe the disturbing acts of violence at the hands a well-known Coffs Coast business owner.
Shaun French, 34, suffocated his on-and-off girlfriend's cat by tying a zip tie around its neck - the first of a string of crimes he committed from October to November last year.
French, who was the owner of Complete Pest Control at the time, will now spend at least two years behind bars following his sentencing before Judge Jonathan Priestley at Coffs Harbour District Court.
It was heard that in October last year, French had told his partner "something needed to be done" about her cat after it scratched the lounge.
The next day, while she was away from the Nana Glen acreage, French found the cat and put the zip tie around its neck, pulling it tight.
"Sorted out the cat problem … the cat is gone," he had told her when she came home.
Around two weeks later, the victim was at a neighbour's home when French, drunk and high on drugs, drove to the property on a quad bike. He came into the home where he grabbed her by the neck and forced her on the bike.
He sped off, while she yelled and screamed.
"The conduct reflects a total disregard for the rights of another and is dehumanising and degrading," Judge Priestley said in his judgment.
The victim came home later in the night with two others, and after he began yelling, she locked herself in the toilet.
A woman who had come home with the victim had attempted to stop French as he punched the wall, but she was struck on the head and fell to the ground unconscious.
She suffered a sore neck and bump to the head.
The victim broke up with French and asked him to move out the next day.
Over a month later, the victim invited him and a third person over to a gathering as a friend only. French became aggressive at the gathering, punching a car and hitting it with crutches, before punching his own vehicle's windscreen and leaving.
Later on, French texted the victim and said he was coming back.
The victim turned off her lights and locked the house to give the impression she was not home, while her second guest hid in a bush.
French arrived back and attempted to get into the house, breaking in through the garage door.
The victim was hiding underneath her sheets and police were called.
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French was arrested soon after and was refused bail, and has remained in custody since.
He pleaded guilty to a string of offences including aggravated break and enter, common assault, torture, beat and cause death of an animal, and take/detain person with intent to obtain advantage.
At the time of the his crimes French was drinking up to 18 standard drinks a day, was using cocaine regularly, and taking MDMA occasionally.
A psychologist report tendered to the court revealed that the breakdown of French's previous marriage had caused his mental health to deteriorate.
It said his debts had risen from his alcohol and drug use, he was suffering leg pain from a complex fracture, he had put on weight and had been suffering with low self-esteem.
French had also written a letter to the court expressing his remorse.
Judge Priestley took into account French's criminal history, which included previous common assault and destroy property offences.
French was sentenced to a non-parole period of two years dating back to when he was first remanded in custody on November 26, 2019.
He will be eligible for parole on November 25 next year.
If you are seeking support, contact the National Domestic Violence Service: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).