Army kitten-killers appeal
By Mark Alexander
August 15, 2004
THREE soldiers kicked out of the army and condemned world-wide for torturing a litter of kittens during a drinking session are fighting their discharge.
The three were among six soldiers from Townsville's Lavarack Barracks who caused international outrage when they appeared in court in May charged with animal cruelty offences.
One of the three-week-old kittens was dragged behind a motorcycle then crushed with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and three others were doused with fuel and set alight.
The kittens were from the litter of a stray cat at the barracks.
Other soldiers, sickened by the Easter Saturday outrage, told the army's special investigations branch, which passed the information to civilian police.
All six soldiers – Ben Lightbody, Brett Neville, Casey Parker, Geoffrey Symonds, Darryl Llewellin and Christopher Murray – pleaded guilty and were fined $2000 but did not have convictions recorded.
Police are appealing against the leniency of the sentences. The appeal is set down for the Townsville District Court on September 3.
After an independent review, the Australian Defence Force last month announced the soldiers' behaviour had been "manifestly below the standard required" and discharged them.
"The act was appalling and the consequences of the act are dire," 3rd Brigade commander, Brigadier David Morrison, said.
They were given 28 days to lodge a "redress of grievance" to fight the discharge.
A Defence spokesman this week confirmed three of the soldiers had appealed.
Two had accepted the army's decision and left the defence forces while the discharge of the sixth soldier was on hold while he received medical treatment for an undisclosed condition.
The spokesman said he could not disclose which soldiers were fighting their discharge "for privacy reasons".
He said the Soldiers Career Management Agency was considering the appeals and it was unknown when a decision would be made.
"The purpose of the system is to provide a formal mechanism for complaints to be investigated and reviewed, and where necessary to correct wrong or unfair decisions or actions," the spokesman said in a statement.
The three soldiers remain in the army but not on active duty while their appeals are being considered.
It has been a troubled time for Lavarack Barracks, with an army captain, 27, to appear in Pormpuraaw Magistrates Court on Friday charged with shooting five stock horses on a cattle station in Cape York.
Capt Ralph Max Schweizer was on leave when the alleged incident occurred.
Earlier last month, Private Rowan Alexander Dickson, 21, was fined $350 in Townsville Magistrates Court for drug offences.
The army has issued him with a notice to show cause why he should not be discharged.