A man who stands accused of cruelty to animals after being seen with his pants down in a stable in Gozo has denied the charge, saying he was drunk and had gone there to search for his mobile phone.

The incident came to light on October 1 when Robert Omo, a 22-year old Nigerian national, was allegedly identified through CCTV footage as the intruder who had made his way into the stable the evening before.

One of the owners of the stables because suspicious when he found a car tyre next to one of the horses when he visited the place the next morning.

The man alerted his son who immediately checked footage from the security cameras at the stables, making out a male figure who had entered the stalls around 7.30pm on September 30, at dusk.

The man had lowered his trousers, every now and again, while chasing one of the mares around the stables, punching the animal and striking it with the rim of a scrap tyre.

The frightened animal galloped away, until the intruder finally clambered back outside the stables, visibly limping as he walked away.

But before leaving, he grabbed another tyre, from a pile heaped outside the stables and flung it at the animal.

The suspect intruder was spotted in the vicinity of the stables a second time, the morning after the alleged incident.

The owner who had first reported the incident identified the suspect as the same man who had turned up at the stables some time earlier, in search of a job, telling the owner that he was hungry.

The owner had handed him a €5 note to buy food.

Police were alerted to the suspect’s presence the morning after the alleged incident and the man was arrested in the vicinity of a nearby supermarket.

He subsequently pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty, offending public morals and violating another person’s property.

When testifying before the Gozo courts earlier this week, the owners of the Xewkija stables said  the mare had been traumatised and in fact, had a changed temperament, even attempting to bite its owners since the incident.

The accused himself also testified, explaining how that day he had consumed too much alcohol and was drunk.

He said that he had gone to the stables to search for his mobile phone, thinking  he must have mistakenly dropped it when he had called the previous day in search of a job.

The accused explained he had gone back to look for his mobile phone's charger.

As for the fact that he had pulled down his trousers, the man said he needed to urinate, insisting he had been drunk at the time and did not recall punching or striking the horse.

After hearing final submissions, the court, presided over by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, adjourned the case for judgment.

Inspector Bernard Charles Spiteri prosecuted.


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