Fire extinguisher attack on Clydesdale horses 'unintended'
A 20-YEAR-OLD man has told court he was so drunk the night he let a fire extinguisher off in front of horses on Quay St that he didn't see the brightly lit carriage.
Giobi Sydney Geiger pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court today to two charges of animal cruelty, one of assault, and one of wilful damage in relation to the incident.
Geiger's lawyer Allan Grant contested the facts, saying Geiger didn't intent to harm the horses as he did not see them.
The court heard evidence from Geiger, Capricorn Carriages' Steven May - the owner of the two iconic Clydesdale horses injured by the chemical fire extinguisher - and Brandon Hohn, the driver of the vehicle Geiger was in when he let off the extinguisher.
Police prosecutor Julie Marsden said Geiger was in the front passenger seat of a white sedan travelling along Quay St about 9.30pm on January 5 when he let off a chemical fire extinguisher in front of the horses as the car overtook them.
The incident was captured on The Criterion Hotel's CCTV system and witnessed by security and smokers outside the licence venue.
Geiger told the court he had drunk up to 14 cans of rum between 7pm and 9pm and then went for a drive with Mr Hohn to the nightclub precinct.
"I was pretty out of it," he said.
Geiger said he saw people and yelled out to them drunkenly.
He said he found the extinguisher when he reached down for his cigarettes and decided to let it off for fun.
"I thought it would be something funny to do... for people to see a prank," Geiger said.
Geiger said he had not seen the carriage nor the horses prior to the incident.
However, he told the court he had seen women crossing the road "towards the bridge".
The bridge was further down the road than where the horses and carriage were at the time of the incident.
Mr May described hearing a loud 'poof' sound and then seeing a 'cloud-like plume' of white powder in front of the horses faces.
Mr Hohn said he did not realise what Geiger was doing until he heard the 'poof' sound.
He said he was going to pull over and make Geiger apologise but Geiger said the carriage driver was "too aggressive to apologise to", so Hohn drove off.
The court heard the chemical powder got in the eyes of Mr May and Bailey, one of the horses.
Both Mr May and Kenny the Clydesdale inhaled the powder, causing them respiratory issues.
Mr May said they (he and the horses he feels are part of his family and like his children) were heading home for the night at the time of the incident.
He said he could hear the car coming up behind him and looked around to check before pulling over as far to the left as possible.
"It was a fair way away," Mr May said.
Mr Hohn said he waited for an indication from the carriage operator before pulling out to the right to go around the slow moving vehicle.
Mr May said the horses reacted immediately to the extinguisher, doing a 'dance' and lifting their legs up higher than needed.
"I went under the bridge and up to the Channel 7 building before I could pull them up in a quiet area," he said.
"I called out to the occupants of the white hatchback. They sped off."
The court heard both Mr May and Mr Hohn told Geiger he was a 'D---head' for doing that.
Mr May said he called police and went up to The Criterion to see if anyone witnessed the incident before returning to his disturbed horses.
"They were rubbing each other which was unusual," he said.
After tending to the horses, he went back to The Criterion and police arrived.
Both horses were treated by a vet, requiring medication for two weeks after the incident.
During cross examination, Geiger said he was so drunk, he doesn't really recall much.
He then admitted, after it was put to him by Ms Marsden, that he could have possibly seen the horses that night and could have possibly intended the prank to include the horses.
However, he reacted this under re-examination by Mr Grant.
Magistrate Phillipa Beckinsale adjourned the matter until Tuesday where she will hand down a decision on the contested part of the facts and sentence.