Man facing rabbit bestiality charges
14 August 2005
By DAVE COURTNEY and TIM HUME
It was his dark glasses and the scratches on New Zealander Brendan McMahon's face that landed him in an Australian jail facing bestiality and animal cruelty charges.
Police had staked out an inner-city Sydney lane over the past few weeks, seeking the person responsible for dumping skinned rabbits - and eventually found him after he paid for one rabbit with his credit card.
McMahon, 36, was in a Sydney court on Friday charged with 18 counts of animal abuse and an act of bestiality with a rabbit on August 1 between 3am and 4am. He also faces two cannabis charges.
His arrest came after a three-week police and RSPCA hunt for the person who dumped the bodies of 13 skinned and partially-skinned rabbits, and one guinea pig, found since July in an inner-city Sydney lane.
McMahon's Auckland-based family said last night they were still trying to contact him to determine what had happened.
His brother, Kiernan McMahon, said the arrest had put the family under strain, particularly his mother, Patricia, who had poor health. She made no comment.
"All she wants to say is she thinks it's a joke," said Kiernan McMahon. "We're trying to get in touch with my brother to see what he says."
McMahon's sister, who would not be named, said: "We don't know anything about this."
A New South Wales police spokesman said police worked closely with the RSPCA to find McMahon.
One rabbit was found dead where he was arrested and two were found alive but put down shortly after.
The joint investigation began with observation of the lane off Sydney's York St, near Circular Quay. A sighting of the alleged abuser led the RSPCA and police to issue inner-city pet stores with a description of their suspect and warning them not to sell to him.
On Thursday night, staff at Pets on Broadway, at the top of Sydney's George St, recognised McMahon from his description when he entered the store.
Manager Ingrid Clancy said McMahon "was wearing dark glasses and it was late night shopping and he had scratches down his face. When you work in the pet industry you know what animal scratches look like."
Clancy said McMahon then asked for three rabbits.
She said a staff member phoned the RSPCA and asked what to do. They said not to sell them to McMahon. "We just said they (the rabbits) were sick," said Clancy.
McMahon left the shop, but he had bought a rabbit at Pets On Broadway's sister store in Concord earlier that day, Clancy said. He had bought it with a credit card, and those details eventually led police to him. Police seized security camera footage of the Concord rabbit purchase.
McMahon runs a financial planning and mortgage brokerage with Jason Meares, the brother of Jodhi Packer - former daughter-in-law of Kerry Packer and a well-known Sydney socialite.
The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported details from his website where he claimed he was once voted bachelor of the year by Marie Claire magazine readers (the magazine says it runs no such competition), sponsors eight children in Guatemala and is a member of the New South Wales Art Gallery Society.
The Sunday Star-Times could find no trace of McMahon's website.
McMahon was remanded in custody and will reappear in court next Friday when his lawyer said he would apply for bail.