Crown plan for more evidence in dog beating case collapses

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 16, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

OTTAWA — An attempt by Crown prosecutors to introduce more supporting evidence ahead of the sentencing of the Ottawa man who brutally attacked and maimed Breezy the dog, collapsed Wednesday.

Steven Helfer, 24, admitted kicking the black Labrador-German shepherd mix with steel-toed boots, hitting her with a rake and smashing her “over and over� with a shovel.

The case attracted widespread condemnation from animal-welfare advocates.

After a morning’s delay, Crown prosecutor Tara Dobec told the court that three witnesses — Helfer’s mother, his sister and his mother’s boyfriend — who were apparently due to testify to alleged previous examples of Helfer’s cruelty to animals would not be appearing.

The so-called Gardiner hearing, in which disputed evidence can be introduced orally before a sentencing, was scrapped.

Helfer, who appeared in court sporting a Mohawk hair style and a white T-shirt, stared at the ground throughout most of his brief appearance in the prisoner’s box. He is due to undergo a psychiatric assessment and will appear next on Feb. 14. He is currently in custody.

Helfer has also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon for threatening neighbours with the rake and to criminally harassing his mother.

According to prosecutor Dobec, Helfer’s mother is in an emotionally unfit state, his sister could not be located by police and the mother’s friend was refusing to co-operate.

According to evidence, Helfer’s mother and sister told police that Stephen had a history of beating, maiming and killing other animals and had abused Breezy prior to the October incident for which he was charged last year.

Helfer is alleged to have taken the entire family of chinchillas to the back step of his home, thrown each animal on the concrete and stomped on them until each was dead. According to his sister, he showed no emotion after killing the animals.

His mother also alleged he had killed and skinned six pet rats, hanging their skins on display inside a TV cabinet.

Helfer, who faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, has denied all those claims and none has been proven in court.

Humane society executive director Bruce Roney has called for “serious sentencing� in the case.

Breezy, a Christmas gift to Helfer, from his mother, suffered massive injuries: lacerations to her head and body, broken teeth, long, deep gashes to her muzzle area, fractures to her skull, a swollen brain and a fractured rib. She had a large gash under her right eye and might still lose the eye. Air was leaking from one of her lungs, and her head injuries exposed bone fragments, muscle and nerves.

The animal was treated at the Ottawa Humane Society and is in foster care.

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