Calgary

Calgary senior pleads guilty to animal cruelty after strangling kittens

A 76-year-old former Italian farmer has admitted to strangling two stray kittens outside his Calgary home because they threatened the rabbits he was raising for stew. Ottavio Marchesan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of animal cruelty.

Senior given 6-month conditional sentence order including 4 months of house arrest

Ottavio Marchesan pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges after two kittens were found strangled in a garbage bin. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

A 76-year-old former Italian farmer has admitted to strangling two stray kittens outside his Calgary home because they threatened the rabbits he was raising for stew.

Ottavio Marchesan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of animal cruelty after an Enmax meter reader witnessed him throwing a kitten in the trash behind his home in July 2015.

"Well, I have lots to say because I don't feel guilty. I'm sorry for what I done, the way I done it," said Marchesan as he addressed the court.

"I been through quite a bit of stress for one year for two little kitties."

Investigating officers also found about two dozen rabbits living in poor conditions in Marchesan's back yard in the 2800 block of 14th Avenue in the southeast neighbourhood of Radisson Heights.

"He viewed these cats as a threat to the baby bunnies and also to the song birds ... and basically wanted to eliminate them," said Marchesan's lawyer Jim Hittel.

Hittel and Crown prosecutor Matt Dalidowicz made a joint recommendation for a six-month conditional sentence order— including four months of house arrest — and a lifetime ban on owning animals which was accepted by Provincial Court Judge Peter Barley.

Rabbit stew

The kittens would have suffered for about five to 15 seconds before they lost consciousness, according to an agreed statement of facts filed at the guilty plea.

Last year, Marchesan told CBC News that he was disappointed his rabbits were seized by the Calgary Humane Society.

"I work for seven years to raise some bunny. There's a lot of guy that like to have rabbit stew," he said at the time. "Now they're going to be mad too because they cannot have any bunny."

Marchesan, who has no criminal record, was born in Italy in 1939 and grew up on a farm until he moved to Calgary in 1961, according to Hittel.

He built his Calgary home in 1967 where he's lived with his wife since.

now