Northern Ireland news

Former mental health nurse who butchered his dog is psychopathic, court hears

Michael McHugh, Press Association

A former mental health nurse who strangled and butchered a dog and fed it to a pet is psychopathic, a doctor has said.

Dominic O'Connor (28), faces up to five years in prison after he used a lead to kill the animal in December 2016 and is due to be sentenced later this month.

He cooked his pet's body and used it as food for his other dog, Shadow.

His barrister Chris Holmes told Downpatrick Crown Court today: "Clearly this is an unusual and extremely disturbing case."

The father-of-two has no memory of the incident at his Roden Street home in the Co Down village of Kircubbin, his lawyer said.

O'Connor was convicted by a jury last month.

He bought the dog on Gumtree from a couple in Lisburn, Co Down, who have not been traced, the court was told.

The judge said he strangled it with a lead, stripped it of its skin, "butchered" it, cooked and fed it to his other dog.

The other animal has been rehomed and the judge said the social services should be informed of the conviction.

Mr Holmes, referring to a medical report, said he exhibited quite disturbing personal symptoms leading to a psychopathic disorder."

He said his client lacked empathy.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Ian Bownes examined the defendant.

Mr Holmes added: "This is bizarre and the motivation behind it is basically inexplicable."

Judge Piers Grant challenged the lawyer's authority to make those observations but said much of the evidence came from O'Connor's own lips and was pretty clear.

He was questioned by police.

The defence said O'Connor was adopted at the age of four, attended third level education and was employed as a mental health nurse.

Mr Holmes added: "Which is deeply ironic in this case."

He has previous convictions for possession of an offensive weapon and common assault.

His position "deteriorated comprehensively" in 2015 following the death of his mother and his marriage break-up, his lawyer said.

His lawyer said there was a "complex and disturbing" mental health background in this case.

Dr Bones' report suggested he had a disordered personality of the psychopathic type, Mr Holmes disclosed, and a troubled background.

The court was told it was an extremely serious and distressing case.

Prosecution lawyer Laura Ivers said the sentence imposed should be the highest possible of the five-year imprisonment maximum.

The judge observed that in some cases there could be no explanation for wrongdoing.

He adjourned the case for sentencing on Wednesday November 29.

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