Kitten torturer wins blue card appeal
A FORMER soldier who was involved in "an abhorrent case of animal cruelty" almost 16 years ago has won the right to a blue card, allowing him to work with children.
Ben Charles David Lightbody was 21 in 2014, when he was one of a group of five Australian Defence Force soldiers who tortured kittens.
Lightbody rode a motorcycle, dragging a kitten which had a rope noose around its neck, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.
When he returned from dragging the kitten along, it was noted that the kitten was in obvious distress, a Hervey Bay tribunal hearing was told.
However, Lightbody again took off with the three-weeks-old kitten dragging behind him, after other soldiers said the kitten was not yet dead.
At his sentencing, the court was told Lightbody admitted he knew the kitten was attached to the rear of the motorcycle and he deliberately dragged it around an accommodation block.
He was convicted of a cruelty to animals charge, fined $2000, disqualified from driving for six months, with no conviction recorded.
He later accepted a forced discharge from the Army.
Lightbody applied for a blue card to work with children because his wife wanted to operate a family day care centre and he wanted to be involved in children's sport.
He appealed to Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, after he was denied a blue card in 2018, because of the animal cruelty offence.
The Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General raised concerns about Lightbody's ability to provide a protective environment for vulnerable children.
He ought to have known his offending was in complete contradiction to his position as a soldier, the tribunal was told.
But the tribunal accepted that Lightbody was not likely to again commit offences against animals, he was remorseful and had made substantial positive lifestyle changes.
While a soldier he had suffered from bullying and mental problems as a result of his deployment in the Solomon Islands, before the animal cruelty incident.
He rebuilt his life after losing his career and enduring threats over the animal cruelty.
"The tribunal accepts that (Lightbody) sincerely regrets his actions," the tribunal judgment said.
"He was affected by peer pressure and he was immature."
Lightbody, who is married with children, has two dogs rescued from a refuge.
The tribunal decided Lightbody was able to act in the best interests of children and it set aside the Director-General's decision, making him eligible for a blue card.
Originally published as Kitten torturer wins blue card appeal