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Brisbane Possum Killer Fined For Animal Cruelty

A retired army officer became so incensed by a possum decimating his organic vegetables and destroying his sleep he tried trapping, solar lamps, wind chimes and his own anti-possum brew of chilli powder mixed with garlic.

When netting and a commercial possum deterrent also failed to evict the marsupial from the tree outside his East Brisbane bedroom window, Ashley Stanley, 65, used a homemade spear to kill the animal.

On Thursday, Stanley pleaded guilty to a count of animal cruelty in Brisbane Magistrates Court where he was fined $3500 and ordered to pay costs of about $1400.

According to the statement of facts tendered to the court, the sound of Stanley picking up the spear and the sight of the possum sitting on a water tank in the backyard of his villa had alerted neighbours something was about to happen.

Peering through the gaps of their adjoining wooden fence, they saw Stanley stab at the possum which then stumbled into foliage along the fence, the statement said.

One of the neighbours told RSPCA investigators she thought it had begun raining after the attack because she heard drops falling onto plants' leaves.

It turned out to be the animal bleeding out. Its body was later found hanging by its tail on the bloodied picket fence.

The couple took the dead possum to the RSPCA the following day where an autopsy revealed it had died after being stabbed clean through its right rear leg.

Stanley's lawyer, Ben Taylor, told the court his client's organic vegetable garden had been so decimated by the animal, he had given up on the venture.

No amount of attempted deterrents had evicted Stanley's unwelcome guest, he said.

"He suffered extreme problems from possums destroying his garden and occupying a tree near (his) bedroom window each night, which was creating so much noise it disturbed (his) sleep," he said.

Mr Taylor rejected claims by prosecution lawyer, Michael Williams, that his client had deliberately fashioned a spear, saying it was, in fact, just a homemade hoe.

But magistrate Tina Privitera rejected this and said the broom handle and knife had been specifically made for killing not hoeing.

"You can buy a garden implement that will do that, you don't have to fashion a knife on the end of a broomstick ... I'm not persuaded," Ms Privitera said.

Outside the court the RSPCA said in a statement that people need to know that when they're annoyed by animals living nearby, those animals were probably annoyed when their land was cleared and humans moved in.

"There are reasonable ways to deal with possums if they cause a nuisance but knife on the end of a stick is not one of them," the statement said.


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