What is the Law and Penalties for Bestiality in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

As shocking as it sounds, the act of human sexual relations with animals – a behaviour known as bestiality – has existed since the dawn of human history, in every place and culture in the world.

In fact, according to a study on bestiality and zoophilia based on the findings of scholar Hani Miletski, an abundance of folklore, paintings, sculptures, films, literature and pornography dealing with bestiality themes exists and these date back to prehistoric times.

Whilst during these times, individuals were punished, sometimes tortured and even killed for engaging in bestiality, in the modern day, the sickening behaviour and pre-occupation with bestiality has persisted.

Today, although estimates of the prevalence of bestiality are not possible to determine with few reliable statistics existing, recent examples from the news and academia highlight that the behaviour is not as rare as once thought.

 

Case Report: January 2018, Australian Man has Sex with Horse

On the night of 22 January 2018, Daniel Raymond Webb-Jackson was caught on camera engaging in sexual relations with a two-year-old horse in Grafton City, New South Wales.

It is alleged the 31-year-old had been breaking into the stables since December the previous year, leaving the horses unusually skittish.

The trainer of the horse, suspecting something wasn’t right, installed security cameras in the stables, only to discover the man in the act one month later.

Mr Webb-Jackson was discovered by police crouched in a corner in the fourth stable, and after a scuffle, was soon arrested.

He was taken to Grafton Police Station, where he attempted to excuse himself with an explanation that can only be described as bizarre.

 

Man Claims he had Consent because Horse Sniffed his Crotch and Winked at Him

Mr Webb-Jackson explained to police that before the sexual act, the horse sniffed his crotch, following which he made direct eye contact with him and then winked.

As such, he claimed that his sexual relations with the young horse were completely consensual.

During the police interviews, the suspect also said that he made the filly perform oral sex on him.

 

Mr Webb-Jackson Sentenced to 10 Months’ Jail

Unconvinced, Magistrate Karen Stafford said the suspect’s two sexual acts constituted animal cruelty.

He was charged both for sexually penetrating the animal and forcing it to perform fellatio.

Meanwhile, the trainer, who was preparing the horse to race, revealed that the incident significantly changed the filly’s demeanour.

“The filly went from being quiet to just being highly strung, she changed in 24 hours. We had to put her in the paddock to try and get her head right,” the trainer said.

“You don’t want to see this sort of thing happening, it’s really sick stuff.”

 

Why Bestiality is so Controversial

The act of having sexual intercourse with an animal has been a long-standing topic of controversy, particularly with animal protection organisations.

Significantly, this is because animals do not possess the same level of judgment or morality as humans, and therefore cannot give consent. Similarly, it is also a crime to have sexual intercourse with a child as children are considered incapable of giving consent.

Moreover, animals cannot defend themselves.

One of the problems that exist with fighting charges such as bestiality is that most people tend to share a love for animals and find them to be innocent. As a result, it can be very hard to maintain unbiased views when facing these charges.

In reality, although a sickening act, fornicating with animals has been well recorded throughout antiquity. Greece, for example, has several myths pertaining to Gods and animals have sex.

While animals should not be used as a medium for satisfying sexual desire without developing any kind of emotional bonding, today, the act of bestiality is nonetheless not uncommon.

What is the Law and Penalties for Bestiality in NSW?

In NSW, it is against the law to have sexual intercourse with an animal and doing so can result in heavy penalties. This offence is known as bestiality, which isn’t defined in the legislation, but is under the common law, specifically as the sexual penetration of any animal (R v Brown (1889) 24 QBD 357).

The law on bestiality is contained in sections 79 and 80 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Any person guilty of bestiality in NSW will face a maximum penalty of up to 14-years imprisonment (section 79 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

A jail sentence is generally not imposed unless there is unusual aggravating features of the offence. In the case of R v Higson (1984) 6 Cr App R 20, the English Court of Criminal Appeal outlined that it is the accused who needs help, not the dog.

Further, if you even attempt to commit the act of bestiality in NSW, you will face a maximum penalty of up to 5-years imprisonment. (section 80 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

As an interesting fact, between July 2002 and December 2009, there have been only 2 known cases of bestiality that were dealt with in the District Court.

Further, between January two thousand and six and December two thousand and nine, there has been only 1 case in the Children’s Court and one case of attempted bestiality dealt with in the Local Court.

Instead of imposing a term of full-time imprisonment, a court can generally impose an alternative to full-time jail such as an Intensive Correction Order. An intensive Correction Order, also known as an “ICO”, is an imprisonment sentence where an offender does not actually go into custody/jail.

However, an ICO is not available for a Judge or Magistrate to impose on an offender for a “prescribed sexual offence”. Bestiality is considered a “prescribed sexual offence” under section 67(1)(b) Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).

Contact us if you have a question. We are an established specialist criminal law firm in Sydney with 8 offices across NSW. Call us 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

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