Daniel James McGaffin

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Daniel James McGaffin

Published on stuff.co.nz 29/07/2019



A Waikato teenager who swung a cat around and around by its tail left the animal so badly injured it had to be put down.

Daniel James McGaffin, 18, was jailed for 22 months when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court this month on charges of cruelty to an animal, assault with intent to rob, wilful damage and three counts of male assaults female. 

The cruelty charge stemmed from an incident in Bracken Ave, Te Aroha, on September 18 last year. McGaffin had briefly lived in the street, but at the time of the incident had moved away and was back for a visit.

For some reason McGaffin went to the cat owner’s property and picked up their pet by the tail with one hand and began swinging it in a circular motion, according to the summary of facts.

The cat began making “a screaming sound to indicate pain and distress as it was swung by the defendant … for a sustained period of time.”

Eventually, McGaffin let the cat go and it dropped to the ground.

The animal had injuries to its tail, including torn skin. It later had to be euthanised.

The assault with intent to rob charge came from an incident in a motel room in Hamilton where McGaffin was staying on February 5 this year.

He invited a couple to the room to socialise – at least that was the pretext for what happened next.   

As they entered the room, McGaffin locked the door behind them. Then he wrapped a necklace chain around his knuckles on his right hand and punched the male victim on his face, while he was sitting in a chair.

“Where is the money?” McGaffin asked him.

The victim believed this was about a previous debt which he had paid back. But his explanations did not do him much good.

McGaffin picked up a wrench, held it against the victim’s throat and started yelling “Where’s the money? Where’s the money?” before punching the man again.

The victim told McGaffin he could get some money from his mother, and the group left the motel and began walking down Victoria St. As they walked, the victim’s girlfriend discretely texted their location to her partner’s parents and they managed to quickly arrive and rescue the pair.

When spoken to by police, McGaffin denied the assault and said the victim had stolen some money from a family member.

McGaffin’s counsel Jared Bell said his client had, while in prison, been diagnosed with a form of autism and was now receiving treatment for it.

Judge Noel Cocurullo granted McGaffin leave to apply for home detention, should an address become available.

“It’s in the community’s interest that you be rehabilitated,” he said.

He also ordered that McGaffin pay his former neighbour $108.20 – the cost of having the cat euthanised – and the Morrinsville Police Station $200 for the repairs to a damaged power socket.