Claire West fronted the Rockhampton Magistrates Court after a video of her kicking a dog circulated social media.
Claire West fronted the Rockhampton Magistrates Court after a video of her kicking a dog circulated social media. Facebook

Rocky dog kicker was victim of cyber bullying, court hears

A ROCKHAMPTON magistrate has told a teenager who filmed herself kicking a puppy 26 times he would make her delete all social media accounts if he could.

The young woman was visibly upset as she appeared earlier today in the dock at Rockhampton Magistrates Court, pleading guilty to one count of animal cruelty.

Significant media attention surrounded Gracemere's Clare Elizabeth West's, 17, appearance after footage of her attack on the Pitbull-cross puppy went viral on social media in recent days.

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The footage prompted a rapid response from police and the RSPCA.

Troubling details emerged in court about West being a victim of cyber bullying, which triggered the puppy kicking incident.

The court heard West purchased the puppy, Buster, with her former boyfriend during their relationship.

He later moved to Tasmania, where he started a relationship with a new partner.

Claire Elizabeth West ran from media after leaving Rockhampton Watch House, charged with animal cruelty.
Claire Elizabeth West ran from media after leaving Rockhampton Watch House, charged with animal cruelty. Steph Allen

Police prosecutor Jess King said West was unable to deal with her distress at receiving taunting Snapchats from her former boyfriend with his new partner.

West filmed herself kicking the cowering, whimpering puppy 26 times in a video to her ex-partner where she can be heard to say "dog's dead ... how do you like that?”

Ms King confirmed the dog was not visibly injured and in the care of the pound with West's mother indicating her willingness to care for the puppy.

Defence lawyer Scheryn Aspinall-Clarke painted a picture of a troubled young woman who lived with her mother, receiving a disability support pension due to struggles with behavioural disorders and significant hearing impairments.

Ms Aspinall-Clarke said between these troubles, the cyber taunting, and her youthful inexperience, West was ill prepared to deal with the situation in a healthy manner and instead resorted to the cruel behaviour.

Claire Elizabeth West ran from media after leaving Rockhampton Watch House, charged with animal cruelty.
Claire Elizabeth West ran from media after leaving Rockhampton Watch House, charged with animal cruelty. Steph Allen

She said West filmed the video in a bid to hurt her ex, knowing he would be upset seeing their dog hurt.

Ms Aspinall-Clarke described her client as being "extremely remorseful” and in tears while talking with her in advance of her court appearance.

"(West) knows her behaviour was completely inappropriate and she asked to apologise, not only to the court but to the public as a whole,” Ms Aspinall-Clarke said.

"She is aware that this video has been on social media and has attracted a lot of attention, she's had people show up to her house and so she's completely humiliated and angry at herself for her actions.”

Magistrate Jeff Clark described West's behaviour as "despicable act”.

"You set about for a protracted period of time and a very high number of times wilfully caused assault by kicking a pup in your care,” Mr Clark said.

"Unfortunately this court does not have the power to order that you not be allowed to access or to maintain a social media account, I would make that order if that order could be made.”

He warned her to reconsider use of social media, especially in light of some of the threats she'd received and that transmission of this kind of material could also attract a serious Commonwealth charge.

When West heard Mr Clark indicate she would lose ownership of the animal, she put her head in her hands.

"In my view, a just order will see that you be prohibited from possessing, acquiring or purchasing an animal, namely a dog, for a period of two years from today in regards to your serious and intentional infliction of harm on this small animal,” he said.

West was given a two-year probation order with no conviction recorded unless her probation was breached.

She will have to undergo anger management counselling as part of her probation.



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