(CNS): In Summary Court on Wednesday, CCTV footage was shown of how on 9 July 2022, RCIPS canine Baron died after being left out all day in the hot summer sun without access to shade, water or food after the young officer looking after him forgot to open his kennel gate. Timothy Alexander Munroe has been charged with cruelty to an animal, which he has denied.
However, that charge does not hold Munroe responsible for the death of Baron, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois who died in the kennel yard at the George Town Police Station.
As the proceedings resumed this week, following a break in which the crown reduced more than twelve hours of CCTV footage down to the relevant parts for the court, Byron Morgan, a former animal welfare officer with the Department of Agriculture who conducted the independent investigation, explained the footage to the magistrate. He said that Munroe had failed to follow the kennel management protocol.
Munroe, who was a relatively new recruit to the K-9 Unit, had gone to the kennels on the morning Baron died to clean out the area and had let the dog into the outside yard. As he did so, he closed the kennel hatch but forgot to reopen it to allow Baron to go inside to where his food and water were. Munroe then left the kennels and went about his work for the day.
The footage shows how, as the day went on, Baron became sluggish before eventually slumping to the ground. Munroe did not return until that evening when he found Baron motionless on the concrete floor of the yard and raised the alarm.
Text messages between Munroe and his senior officer, who was on leave, were read out to the court on Thursday. In them, Munroe admitted forgetting to open the kennel door, which meant Baron was unable to get to the food and water. “I cannot believe I did that,” Munroe was said to have written in the message, accompanied by a crying emoji. “This is going to drive me nuts,” he texted, and, “I am very upset that Baron died this way.”
As local defence attorney Denis Brady cross-examined Morgan on his evidence and the report he compiled on the incident, he implied that there had been a cover-up. Brady said Munroe was being targeted by senior officers who were seeking to “hide their incompetence”, as others with responsibility for the dog, who should have made welfare checks, sought to put all the blame on him.
Brady suggested that Morgan had written the report to make Munroe appear to be an uncaring person. He implied that the document was drafted to ensure Munroe appeared to be bad, as he was accused of kicking Baron when he lay on the floor. Instead, Brady said, Munroe had used his foot to gently touch the dog to see if he responded.
The court also heard how Munroe had been bitten by Baron at an early point, but the young officer had still been determined to work with the dog.
The case continues.