Joshua Jeffrey outside Burnie Court. Picture: Chris Kidd
Joshua Jeffrey outside Burnie Court. Picture: Chris Kidd

Penguin killer’s ‘pathetic’ $82 fine

ON JANUARY 1, 2016, Joshua Jeffrey was drinking with two others on a Tasmanian beach when he battered nine little penguins to death.

Yesterday, the 20-year-old was sentenced to just 49 hours of community service and ordered to pay an $82.15 fine for the crime, which magistrate Tamara Jago described as a "callous act" against "vulnerable" animals.

She also noted that Jeffrey had shown no remorse for his crime, according to the Hobart Mercury, which reported from the Burnie Magistrates Court.

But the sentence has been slammed by animal rights activists, with experts declaring it would serve as no deterrent for future attacks against animals - or even humans.

PETA spokeswoman Emma Hurst told the pain and fear the slain birds would have experienced would have been "unimaginable".

"The light sentence given to Joshua Jeffrey is a shocking miscarriage of justice," she said.

"Animal abusers are cowards, and anyone who is capable of bashing nine gentle penguins to death shows a worrying psychological state.

"Research into criminology and psychology shows that people who commit acts of violence against animals are likely to repeat their abusive ways and can pose a danger to the entire community."

Joshua Jeffrey, 20, beat nine fairy penguins to death with a stick. Picture: Facebook
Joshua Jeffrey, 20, beat nine fairy penguins to death with a stick. Picture: Facebook

Ms Hurst said lenient sentences for animal cruelty potentially put both animals and people at risk from violent offenders.

"We must treat acts of cruelty to animals with the seriousness they deserve - otherwise, we endanger the lives of animals and humans alike," she said.

Many Australians took to social media to express their shock and disbelief following Jeffrey's sentence yesterday afternoon.

The majority of comments seen by are of a threatening nature against Jeffrey, and can't be published.

However, many commentators also attacked the lenient sentence, questioned the country's legal system and argued in favour of tougher punishments for animal cruelty.

Animals Australia campaign director Lisa Chalk told Mr Jeffrey was "clearly a deeply disturbed young man" who needed professional help.

"While the penalty may seem insufficient, perhaps the best way to ensure he never again inflicts such harm is for him to receive the help he needs," she said.

Earlier this year, Jeffrey was convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals over the attack which took place in Sulphur Creek, northwest Tasmania.

The magistrate considered Jeffrey's "intellectual limitation" before deciding on the sentence, with the man's lawyer previously telling the court his client had experienced ongoing mental health issues since his childhood.

Little penguins, also known as fairy penguins, are only found in southern Australia and New Zealand, and around half of the entire world's population is found in Tasmania.

The court was told the little penguin population at Sulphur Creek would take years to recover from the attack.