Lyttle says animal cruelty sentencing increase a result of public outcry

Alliance Animal Welfare spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said an increased maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences came about following public revulsion over a number of high-profile animal cruelty cases in his constituency.

The East Belfast MLA, who is Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare, was speaking ahead of an amendment to the Welfare of Animals Act today (Wednesday) that will see an increase of the maximum penalties for serious animal cruelty crimes among a range of other measures.

It will mean the maximum sentence for Crown Court cases moving from two years to five years, Magistrates’ Court cases from six months to 12 months and maximum Magistrates’ Court fines increasing from £5,000 to £20,000.

“Alliance has led the way in tackling all forms of animal cruelty, working alongside the public, charities and the relevant Departments to attempt to put to an end the suffering of vulnerable animals at the hands of those who wish to harm them,” said Mr Lyttle.

“Today’s move will see the ability to strengthen sentences for those convicted of such crimes. In particular, there was huge public outcry following perceived lenient sentences after a number of high-profile cases in my constituency.

“It is only right those guilty of such crimes receive the serious sentences their crimes deserve. Strong laws are of little value without effective enforcement. Thanks to the Justice Minister’s work, this is a chance to finally make the punishment fit the crimes.”

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