Sydney man gets federal term for assaulting girlfriend, killing puppy

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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SYDNEY — A 31-year-old Sydney man who pleaded guilty to beating his former girlfriend and kicking her eight-month-old puppy to death has been sentenced to a federal prison term.

Brian David Cooper of Cross Street will serve a two-year federal sentence followed by a one-year probation period. He is prohibited from possessing weapons for 10 years and life for restricted weapons. He is to submit a DNA sample to the national registry and is banned for 10 years from owning animals or birds or having such creatures on any property he owns.

Among the conditions of his probation, Cooper is to refrain from alcohol and take all counselling as recommended by his probation officer.

The sentence was imposed after Cooper pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon (a coat hanger and a machete), two counts of assault and one count each of unlawful confinement, uttering a death threat and animal cruelty (killing a puppy named Thunder).

The offences occurred in October and November 2012 in Sydney and Big Pond.

Prosecutor Darcy MacPherson told the court that the female victim described to police incidents where she was slapped, kicked, punched, thrown against a wall and onto a floor by her former boyfriend.

MacPherson said the woman described another incident during which Cooper held a wire coat hanger to her neck and threatened to gouge her after which he grabbed a machete, forced her to her knees, and placed the weapon across her neck.

She said she attempted to leave the home and was almost in her car when Cooper dragged her back into the home by her hair and threatened to kill her if she called police. He also bit her on the neck in another fit of rage.

She said the incidents would occur after Cooper had been drinking alcohol and after his explosive outbursts, he would calm down and admit he did a bad thing and attempt to smooth things over.

During the course of the seven-month relationship, the woman said she suffered numerous injuries.

She also told police that Cooper forced her to come with him while he broke into cottages. It was during this time that she took along her eight-month-old puppy Thunder, a Labrador/pit bull mix.

She said at one point, Cooper kicked the dog and the woman picked up the puppy wanting to take him home. Cooper demanded she drop the dog which she did and then fled for her car. She returned to the scene to find Cooper kicking the dog who died as a result of his injuries. The court was told the dog was placed in a garbage bag and buried.

In accepting a joint recommendation for sentence from MacPherson and defence lawyer Shannon Mason, provincial court Judge Peter Ross said the case was one of the more serious he's dealt with when it comes to assault with a weapon.

He said there is no doubt that Cooper was guilty and that his killing of the dog appeared to be a message to his girlfriend of just what he was capable of doing if she didn't follow his commands.

"This is the absolute least sentence you should expect," said Ross, noting the intimidation, the violence and the protracted time over which the offences occurred could have resulted in a longer sentence.

In her victim impact statement read in court, the woman said she has since left Cape Breton feeling no longer safe and is always looking over her shoulder fearing Cooper will attack her again.

Geographic location: Sydney, Cross Street, Big Pond Cape Breton

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