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Conflicting testimony collapses animal cruelty trial

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A man accused of cruelly kicking a puppy inside a Spence Neighbourhood rooming house walked away free from court today after a key witness offered conflicting testimony about what she saw.

The animal cruelty trial against Gerald Dunn, 40, collapsed in provincial court after Judge Tim Killeen found in favour of his lawyer's motion for "no evidence."

"It isn't at all clear that a kick occurred," Killeen said.

Dunn was arrested last summer after police were called to a Langside Street rooming house for a report of an injured dog. He pleaded not guilty this morning to a charge of needlessly causing suffering to an animal.

The Crown's case hinged on the believability of testimony offered by of Lucienne "Lucy" Lemky, 52, a long-time resident of the multi-suite home.

Lemky initially told court she was making a morning cup of coffee in a second-floor shared kitchen when Dunn appeared, came "running" down the stairs from the third floor and kicked her sister's dog — a months old beige puppy named Vodka, which had been walking around.

"I seen him kick him — I didn't know which foot he did it with," Lemke said. She said she heard the puppy make a "queek" sound "like a bark."

She said she picked up the whimpering animal and took it downstairs to her sister's suite where it vomited continually after being given some milk. Vodka died later that day, she said.

"I feel bad about it," Lemke testified. "I liked the dog too."

But drilling down into what Lemke actually witnessed poked gaping holes in what initially appeared to be a relatively simple and sad story.

At one point she said she saw Vodka under a sink prior to Dunn appearing and not walking around as she earlier indicated. "He was lying there, essentially," she said.

She also contradicted herself by saying she hadn't seen Dunn kick the puppy and only saw the animal in the corner after Dunn had appeared briefly and gone. She could not say where the dog had been struck, calling into question whether she saw Dunn do anything at all.

There were also issues of what she would have seen from the kitchen, whether her view was somehow obstructed.

With no other evidence to rely on, the Crown cut her testimony short.

"I don't want to waste any more of the court's time," prosecutor Amado Claros told Killeen. "I don't think the Crown will have a reasonable likelihood of conviction."

Dunn had faced a maximum penalty of $10,000 and/or 18 months in jail if he had been convicted.

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