Animal Cruelty Laws in NSW

Sahar Adatia.


A woman from Wales in the United Kingdom has been banned from keeping animals for life after disturbing footage was found which showed she flushed her pet monkey down the toilet and offered it cocaine.

Vicki Holland, from Newport, was handed a 12-week jail term suspended for 12 months and banned from keeping animals for life after police obtained the video of her abusing Milly the marmoset.

The distressing content, taken from the 38-year-old’s phone, reveals the animal trembling in a toilet bowl, which is then flushed, while other clips show the monkey being offered cocaine and scorching food.

Police executed a search warrant; however, Ms Holland advised the officers that she had sold Milly the marmoset the previous week.

The primate was subsequently found at a different address.

She was then left in the care of the RSPCA, before being transferred to specialist primate experts at Monkey World in Dorset for ongoing treatment and where she was permanently rehomed.


Monkey-Flushing Woman Pleads Guilty to Three Counts of Animal Cruelty

On 10 December 2021, Ms Holland faced Newport Magistrates Court where she pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act.

Along with her suspended sentence and life ban from keeping animals, the woman was instructed to pay £420 (approximately $780AUD) in costs and a £128 (around $240AUD) victim surcharge.

RSPCA inspector and exotics officer Sophie Daniels addressed the matter in the sentencing’s aftermath and expressed her serious concern about the marmoset’s well-being.

“I was immediately and gravely concerned about the welfare of this marmoset when I saw these disturbing videos,” Ms Daniels said.

“Videos from the defendant’s phone showed Holland offering the marmoset cocaine, while another showed the clearly terrified marmoset down a toilet bowl.

“Holland was shouting, swearing, laughing and at one point in the clip, the toilet is flushed, showing the petrified animal struggling to cling onto the side of the bowl.”

Ms Daniels added that a vet was called to inspect the creature which showed signs of anguish.

“An independent vet soon confirmed that the marmoset was suffering unnecessarily as a result of the way she had been treated,” the RSPCA inspector said.

“We’d like to thank Gwent Police for their assistance in this case, along with Monkey World who have provided a forever home for the marmoset.

“Thankfully, this monkey is now getting the care they deserve after such shocking mistreatment.”


Milly the Marmoset Steadily Recovering from Trauma and Now Has New Monkey Friend Called “Moon”

Meanwhile, Dr Angela Cronin, from Monkey World, expressed her concern that Milly had been “very, very traumatised” by the incident, which was evident when the creature first arrived to the rescue centre.

Thankfully, though, after some mingling with other marmosets, the little monkey soon came to life.

“True to form, as soon as we got her near and around other marmosets, you could see it, it was like a light switch went on,” Dr Cronin said, speaking to the BBC.

“She started hearing their calls, calling back to them. And while she was a little bit cautious, as soon as we started socialising her with other marmosets, her behaviour and attitude changed quite a bit.”

Since then, Milly has discovered a close friendship in another marmoset named Moon, bringing this sad tale a happy ending.

For specific advice about animal cruelty laws, we advise to speak to our criminal lawyers Sydney based team.

Animal Cruelty Laws in NSW

In NSW, acts of cruelty against animals are against the law and this is protected by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

The maximum penalty for committing an act of cruelty upon an animal in NSW is 1-year imprisonment, prescribed by section 5 of the same Act.

If cruelty is aggravated, the maximum penalty is 2-years imprisonment, prescribed by section 6 of the Act.

An act of cruelty to an animal refers to harmful behaviours carried out upon the animal, as indicated in section 4(2) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).

Specifically, this includes any act or omission to the animal that unjustifiably, unnecessarily or unreasonably causes the animal to be:

  • Beaten, killed, wounded, kicked, mutilated, maimed, pinioned, abused, tormented, tortured, terrified or infuriated; or
  • Over-worked, over-loaded, over-driven, over-ridden or over-used; or
  • Exposed to excessive cold or heat; or
  • Inflicted with pain

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