Man denies cruelty charge over rabbit thrown into Liffey


A Dublin youth accused of throwing a homeless man’s pet rabbit into the river Liffey has pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty and torture charge.

John Byrne (39), who had spent the previous 22 years living on the streets, had been sitting on O’Connell Bridge for 10 days when his pet rabbit Barney was thrown into the Liffey on July 3rd, 2011. Hundreds watched as he risked his own life and went into the river to save the rabbit. Both were rescued by Dublin Fire Brigade.

Gary Kearney (20), who is from Crumlin but has an address at Conyngham Road, in Dublin city centre, was later charged under the Protection of Animals Act in connection with the incident.

The charge states that it is alleged he “did cruelly torture or terrify an animal”, and “did throw a rabbit into the river Liffey from O’Connell Bridge”, on July 3rd last year. He also faces a breach of the peace charge.

His case had its 15th court listing yesterday. Defence solicitor Áine Flynn said he was denying the charges. Mr Kearney was ordered to appear again at Dublin District Court on November 29th.