Man who threw pet rabbit into river gets four-month sentence

Wed, Dec 5, 2012, 00:00

A Dublin man with a litany of criminal convictions has been given a four-month sentence for throwing a homeless man’s pet rabbit into the River Liffey.

Gary Kearney (20), Conyngham Road, was charged that he “did cruelly torture or terrify an animal”.

John Byrne (37) pictured above, who has spent the previous 23 years living on the streets, was sitting on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin city centre for 10 days when his pet rabbit Barney was thrown into the river on July 3rd, 2011.

Hundreds watched as he risked his life and went into the river to save Barney. Both were rescued by the Dublin Fire Brigade. His rescue of the rabbit was captured on video and went viral on the internet with clips on YouTube getting tens of thousands of hits.

Mr Byrne, who sat in the public gallery, was not required to give evidence. He was accompanied to the proceedings by members of Animal Rights Action Network.

Kearney, who is serving a sentence for another offence was described by the defence as “vulnerable”. His younger years had seen him spend periods living in foster homes and had also resided in “out of hours” hostels.

Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court was told that Kearney had 138 criminal convictions mostly for public order offences but also for theft, criminal damage, possessing a weapon and assault.