A veterinary pathologist has found no evidence that a puppy allegedly bludgeoned to death with a hammer was also put in a microwave, the High Court heard today.
Nothing in the report indicates the dog called Sparky had been subjected to physical suffering before dying, a judge was told.
Details emerged as a man accused of inflicting the fatal injuries was granted bail once more.
Kyle Keegan, 24, from Gilpins Manor in Lurgan, Co Armagh, is charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the 11-week-old pet on February 3 this year.
The dog’s remains were found in a bin following the suspected attack at a drink and drug-fuelled house party in the Ailsbury Park area of the town.
A postmortem confirmed the pup had sustained a number of fractures as well as severe brain trauma.
Police went to the scene of the alleged killing after being alerted to concerns about the dog.
The animal’s remains were seized along with a blood-spattered T-shirt said to belong to Keegan.
A blood-stained hammer which had allegedly been hidden behind a kitchen appliance was also taken for further examination.
Prosecutors said the investigation developed when a 16-year-old youth went to police expressing fear for his safety due to social media posts linking him to the incident.
The teenager, who has so far refused to make a formal statement, claims he heard bangs and a puppy yelp, the court was told.
Crown lawyer Natalie Pinkerton said the youth alleged he saw Keegan with a bloodied hammer in his hand.
She contended that the accused is a contributor to a mixed DNA profile found on the suspected weapon.
Defence counsel Barry McKenna referred to suspicions raised at previous hearings that the dog had also been put in a microwave.
Tests were to be carried out in what he described as a “live issue” at the time.
But Lord Justice Treacy heard the veterinary pathologist’s report, contained in papers served by the prosecution, now appears to have ruled that out.
“I find no evidence that the puppy was exposed to microwave radiation,” the expert concluded.
She also stated there is “no indication of physical suffering at the time of the puppy’s death or in the period shortly before death are recognised in the evidential material I have examined”.
Mr McKenna submitted: “It’s a disturbing case, but these are two significant matters.”
Keegan has been in custody since June due to alleged breaches of his previous release conditions.
Granting renewed bail, the judge said: “This is a horrible case, and it’s a very, very serious charge.”
He ordered Keegan to attend his GP within seven days and warned that any further breaches will lead to him remaining in prison until trial.
Belfast Telegraph Digital