The owner of a pony who was killed by an airgun shot condemns the three-month jail sentence given to the man found guilty of the crime

The owner of a pony who was shot in the eyes at point blank range says that the man found guilty should have been tried in the High Court.

John O’Keefe, sentenced earlier this month, was prosecuted under the Protection of Animal Act. Sheriff Bill Dunlop said three months was the maximum he could impose.

The pony, a nine-year-old Welsh Section B called Micky, was shot in its loose box on the night of 1 September 2001. He was put down when he was found the next day with blood pouring from his eyes.

The sentence of three months is disgusting. And he’s unlikely to serve more than six weeks of that,” said owner Tom McDowell.

“I believe two years would have been more of a deterrent although it’s difficult to know what punishment would fit the crime.

“It’s hard to take in why someone would do it.”

O’Keefe, a 23-year-old father of two pleaded not guilty, but the other boys with him gave evidence that he pulled the trigger. The sentence also included a charge of vandalism.

Regional Superintendent of the SSPCA (Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals), Tom Gatherer, said: “The horse was deliberately attacked and left to suffer what must have been excruciating pain.

“For the last six years the Scottish SPCA has been working to highlight the link between cruelty to animals and human violence through a campaign called ‘First Strike Scotland’. Animal cruelty must be taken seriously as it can often be an indicator of worse to come.”