Former PSNI police officer filmed attacking dogs avoids jail after saying he had 'no regrets'

UTV News has chosen to air a short clip of the video of John Fleming attacking dogs - as the footage is too disturbing to show in full.

A police officer who was sacked after “absolutely brutal attacks” on his two dogs has been spared jail time.

Former PSNI officer John Fleming admitted the offences in Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.

In dashcam video of the attack filmed by a concerned passerby, Fleming can be seen on the right of the footage in a yellow hi-vis coat as he moves to attack his dogs.

Fleming earlier entered guilty pleas to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to his pets, Ko and Alfie during the incident last year.

The attack was partially captured in a clip shown in court on Friday, capturing Fleming kicking his Alsation and slamming his Staffordshire Terrier's head onto a Co Londonderry country road.

Former PSNI officer John Fleming with his dogs. He was sacked after attacking two of them.

Prosecutors outlined to the court how the witness spotted Fleming with his dogs on the Craigbrack Road, Eglington, on January 30, 2021.

They saw Fleming’s Alsatian-cross dog Ko had “grabbed a Springer Spaniel by the back and was shaking it.”

Fleming kicked Ko until the dog let go and the Alsatian “cowered before him”.

But Fleming then bent down, picked it up by its head and slammed the dog “hard onto the ground,” the court heard.

The prosecutor said the witness turned on his jeep’s ignition and recorded the rest of the incident on dashcam.

John Fleming appears at Ballymena Court after being sacked.

During the footage played to the court, Fleming is seen continuing to kick at the Alsatian a number of times before the animal gets up and runs back onto the road.

The former officer, wearing a yellow high vis jacket, can be seen swinging five full-force kicks at Ko.

At least three of his kicks connect with the animal, which is then seen running way.

Striding a short distance down the road after Ko, Fleming appears to stop his husband Daniel Fleming-Cairo from stroking Alfie, a Staffordshire Terrier.

But he then picks up the smaller dog by its scruff and hindquarters, raising Alfie above head height, arms fully stretched, before slamming the animal into tarmac.

The video records Fleming repeating the move - lifting Alfie nearly to head height, and slamming him into the ground.

However the footage is cut off when a vehicle drives in front of the camera, obscuring Fleming and his husband from view.

Prosecuting counsel said while there was no audio on the recording, the witness claimed he had “blasted the car horn and shouted something along the lines of ‘stop beating that dog’."

However Fleming’s reaction was to turn around and begin "shouting and posturing aggressively,“ the court was told.

There were confrontational words exchanged between the men, with Fleming trying to open the vehicle door.

Council and police officers went to Fleming’s home a few days later.

A vet noticed that while both animals were friendly and good-natured, Alfie “did appear to be slightly sore when sitting and rising and was assessed as having a mild weight-bearing lameness in his right leg with a superficial wound.”

A third dog was also seized during the visit.

Although initially, Fleming’s husband wanted to contest the Council’s application for it to be re-homed the court heard on Friday he had agreed to the measure.

The court also heard that when he was initially questioned about the incident, Fleming claimed his actions were “proportional.”

He said: “Obviously I am remorseful that I had to hit my dogs… [but] I wouldn’t have acted if I didn’t think that they weren’t correct… Do I regret acting? No… It’s the circumstances I regret that it even happened.”

When the witness’ account was put to him, Fleming “laughed throughout” that portion of the interview and accused the witness “of a public disorder offence,” the court was told.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin said that Fleming had been dismissed from the PSNI this week “as a result of these proceedings”.

Not only had he suffered the ignominy of finding himself in the dock, but he had also lost “what was a very promising career,” Mr Devlin added.

He told the court that setting aside Fleming’s attitude during his council interviews, he had since expressed “genuine remorse” and he urged the judge to look at direct alternatives to jail.

“This conviction will hang over him for the rest of his life, a tragedy that he has authored by his own hand,” Mr Devlin said.

Fleming faced a maximum sentence of five years behind bars.

District Judge Peter King told Fleming that as a man who had been an “exemplary public servant…it doesn’t give the court any pleasure to see you standing in the dock of a criminal court.”

The sentencing judge told Fleming that if he had he not entered a guilty plea, he would have been sentenced to immediate custody.

Judge King said while sending Fleming to prison “may send a strong message to the community at large that this behaviour will not and could not be accepted,” jailing him would not be a “fair disposal.”

The judge imposed a 200-hour Community Service Order, banned Fleming from keeping any animal for ten years, and ordered him to pay £2,000 towards the £12,000 in court costs.