A NASTY neighbour who baited Forster resident Jessica Munro's family dog with thumb tacks, squid jigs and fish hooks has been convicted for his sickening act of cruelty.
Geoffrey Bernet John Ostini was sentenced to a 12-month Community Correction Order at Forster Local Court on Monday, ordered to do 75 hours of community service and pay $513 in compensation to the family.
Ms Munro told the Newcastle Herald that while she was glad Ostini was convicted, she was ultimately disappointed with a sentence she felt should have been more severe.
"I'm happy he has been sentenced and that he has to get out into our community and give back for all that he has obviously taken," she said.
"Hopefully it deters people from making such silly decisions, he obviously thought he was going to get away with it so hopefully it stops other people from thinking animal cruelty will be looked at lightly.
"I really hope he has learned something from this, people will stand up for their rights whether that's human or animal, and if this is not the first time, at least he did get caught this time."
Ms Munro had come back from a funeral in October, 2022, to discover the family dog Theo had vomited while they were away - in it was 17 fish hooks and some thumb tacks.
Just a week later, another neighbour saw Ostini throwing meatballs over the fence - this time full of squid jigs made of sharp, metal barbs.
Concerned for their safety, the family moved out of their home that afternoon to protect themselves and the much-loved staffy-cross-rottweiler.
Thanks to the dedication of local police, Ostini was later charged and Ms Munro said she was thankful he was able to be convicted, despite denying the charges against him.
"We were very happy he was convicted, that was a landmark for our area, not many people get found guilty of animal cruelty and baiting because it's hard to prove," she said.
The case relied heavily on testimony from the vets, an eyewitness account from the neighbour and X-rays showing the hooks in Theo's intestines after the second incident.
The ordeal cost the family upwards of $2500 in vet bills, thankfully Theo was able to survive both attacks without surgery.
Ms Munro said the $513 Ostini was ordered to pay would only cover one of the X-rays the family forked out for, after two other charges against him were dismissed.
"It won't cover all the bills for his doing, I'm a little bit disappointed that's all we'll get covered but I suppose anything helps," she said.
"Certainly the biggest thing is we just wanted it to be over ... once he was found guilty we could tell people who his name is and that he was found guilty of trying to harm animals.
"At least now Theo's great, he's loving the farm life and we can look on the bright side that we're blessed enough to have somewhere to go, not like other families if they were displaced from their homes."
Ostini will be subject to supervision for the duration of his Community Correction Order, which will expire December 10, 2024.