Sick emu killer’s sentence reduced
A Victorian farmhand who filmed himself laughing while mowing down a herd of emus with his ute has had his sentence reduced on appeal.
Jacob Scott Macdonald, 21, from the remote farming community of Cowangie near the South Australian border, was originally sentenced in May this year to 42 days in jail and fined $800 after pleading guilty in the Mildura Magistrates Court to a string of driving and animal cruelty offences.
The horrifying video, filmed in September last year, showed Macdonald laughing maniacally as he ran over a mob of emus on Pallarang Road, counting each one and yelling "f***ing emus" and "this is f***ing great".
The footage went viral and sparked a nationwide manhunt. Macdonald was tracked down by police and the RSPCA several days later. Seven emus were found dead on the road. Macdonald said the video was only meant for his mates to see on Snapchat and that he thought it was "funny at the time".
"Yeah someone's obviously not as good of a mate as I thought," he told Seven News last year. "It was a mistake, it was a silly idea. It's not funny anymore, it was at the time. It's the biggest stuff up of my life. I'm not proud of it."
Macdonald, who appeared in court supported by dozens of family and friends, turned away when the prosecution played the video of his rampage. "You received pleasure from inflicting pain on defenceless animals," magistrate Michael King said as he handed down Macdonald's sentence.
The man accused of mowing down a mob of emus in South Australia has told Seven News it was the biggest mistake of his life. In an exclusive interview 20-year-old Jacob Macdonald revealed his remorse over the callous act. #7News pic.twitter.com/4SkkTReGAB— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) September 22, 2018
Macdonald he had tried to justify his actions, claiming emus needed to be culled. "I could show you some photos of the destruction the emus make down here. We've been in drought. We're literally growing crops on about four inches of rain," he said last year.
"You've got these animals coming in and making a mess. The reason there is so many on the road is because they're looking for something to eat. And there's nothing. They're just that poorly, they need to be put down. Here is what the RSPCA doesn't understand, they go on about cruelty, they should come out here and have a look at the state of these animals … they're not doing anything for them."
After his sentencing in May he lodged an appeal and was released on bail. He appeared in the Victorian County Court yesterday, where his lawyer argued he was a young man with no criminal history who helped farmers in his isolated community, ABC News reports.
Judge David Sexton said the footage showed "deliberate, sustained and gratuitous behaviour" and that "members of the community need to understand that such serious matters of animal cruelty will not go unpunished in a real sense".
He said Macdonald's comments in a TV interview a week after the incident showed he had little insight into the seriousness at the time. He reduced Macdonald's jail term to 21 days but placed him on a nine-month community corrections order requiring 100 hours of unpaid work, recommending it be for an animal-supporting charity.
He upheld Macdonald's $800 fine for driving offences.