Killing or harming pets will be a new criminal offense under anti-stalking legislation

Killing or harming pets will be a new offense under anti-stalking legislation being introduced by Justice Secretary Helen McEntee.

Attacks on animals were previously treated as damaging a person’s property, but the new law against systematically assaulting an individual motivated by sexual jealousy will treat it as an emotional assault on the person being victimized.

The new criminal offense of stalking includes any behavior that either induces a fear of violence in the victim or causes serious distress and distress.

A felony is enough for a charge that can result in 10 years in prison — rather than having to identify a repeated pattern or behavior.

Meanwhile, non-fatal strangulation, often used in domestic violence cases and sometimes a precursor to murder, is becoming a crime in its own right, punishable by up to life in prison.

Tackling pets is a potential stalking offense that can result in jail time.

Victim of violence Una Ring said she kept dogs but then became afraid her perpetrator had thrown poisoned meat over the wall.

“I know it happens and I’ve heard of pets being stabbed or run over on purpose,” she said at government buildings where Ms McEntee’s new legislation was announced.

Courts will also be able to more easily issue injunctions over stalking behavior. With the support of the Gardaí, injured parties can submit an application with a lower burden of proof.

“This will give victims faster access to the courts and they will feel safe,” the minister said.

Violation of such an order would be punishable by a maximum of one year’s imprisonment, could also be grounds for a criminal prosecution for stalking, which extends to any persistent behavior, and not just stalking, observing or approaching.

Non-fatal strangulation can also be a criminal offense in the absence of apparent injury. In such a case, a prison sentence of up to five years is imminent.

“We know that non-fatal strangulation can be an indicator of future fatal violence,” Ms McEntee said.

“It’s a risk factor for homicides against women at home.

“It is prevalent in domestic violence situations and is often accompanied by death threats. We hope this new crime will encourage victims to come forward and report what happened to them.”

Internationally, strangulation is the second most common method of killing an adult woman after stabbing.

Studies have found that even with little or no visible injury, longer-term physical effects include internal bleeding, dizziness, memory loss, and other neurological effects.

Psychological consequences identified include depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

“The government’s overall goal is to achieve zero tolerance when it comes to domestic sexual and gender-based violence,” Ms McEntee said today.

“What’s really important is that we have clear and strong laws and make sure victims know they can come forward and are supported.

“We see the devastating impact stalking can have on people in our communities. The evidence shows that people are more likely to report cases when it is a distinct crime.”
Senator Lisa Chambers of Fianna Fáil worked closely with the minister on the new legislation, which was drafted in consultation with victims.

“We launched this campaign early last year and it has been a privilege to work with them to draft legislation to prosecute a crime in its own right,” she said, referring to Ms Ring and Eve McDowell, whose abuser remains in prison.

The fact that he will be released within a year “lingers on me,” Ms McDowell said.

Her pursuer, a Polish national, eventually broke into her home and attacked her roommate with a claw hammer.

He then pleaded guilty to molestation and aggravated burglary.

Ms Chamber said: “We know from other jurisdictions such as England, Wales and Scotland that separate offenses increase reporting and ultimately mean better outcomes.

“It makes our streets safer. It is predominantly women who are subjected to stalking and non-fatal strangulation, but it can also happen to men.

“This will also very importantly send a message to the perpetrators that this is a serious crime and will be treated as such.” Killing or harming pets will be a new criminal offense under anti-stalking legislation

Fry Electronics Team

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