CONVICTED: James Winiata pleaded guilty to flinging a stray cat by its tail.
CONVICTED: James Winiata pleaded guilty to flinging a stray cat by its tail.

Snapchat video reveals shocking animal cruelty

A VIDEO of a man throwing a cat against a building was played in court on Wednesday.

James Francis Winiata appeared at the Emerald Magistrates Court on Tuesday and Wednesday for a charge of animal cruelty.

From March 29 to April 2 this year, Winiata, aged 29 at the time, stayed at the Lyra Park Accommodation Village in Tieri for work.

His solicitor, Rhett Peters of Anne Murray & Co, said that on an unknown day, Winiata coaxed a cat over to him and "grabbed the cat by his tail with both hands and launched the cat towards another building".

"We don't have any expert report that would indicate the severity of the pain or discomfort that might be caused by grabbing a cat in this way," he said.

Winiata was later interviewed at Tieri Police Station, admitting that it was him in a video that captured the cruelty.

The short video, which reached police after being shared on Snapchat, was shown in court. It depicted Winiata at night time flinging a stray cat into the air by its tail so that it travelled several metres and collided with a structure. Laughter is heard as the video finishes.

"[Winiata] wasn't aware he was being filmed," Mr Peters said.

"His intention was … to frighten the cat sufficiently so as to deter it.

"The place where he was staying had a problem with stray and feral cats."

He said the accommodation's stray problem disturbed workers' sleep and that Winiata was "dealing with some personal problems at the time".

Magistrate Robert Walker emphasised "the seriousness of the offence and the criminality involved".

"I was appalled as I heard the facts," he told the court.

"I wonder whether [the cat] survived. It might have crawled off and died somewhere - who knows?"

He said "animal cruelty is abhorrent to any right-minded member of the community" and Winiata's acts were "cowardly and cruel".

"It cries out for some sort of rationalisation," he said, but added that it was "fairly clearly a one-off incident".

The court heard that Winiata has answered for several crimes in the past decade, but none involving animal cruelty. He pleaded guilty and was fined $3000.

It is not known what happened to the cat.


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