Rottnest Island quokka kicker fined $4000
A 20-year-old WA man who was filmed kicking a quokka into a wall on Rottnest Island has been fined $4000.
Footage of Harrison Angus McPherson kicking the vulnerable species so hard it became airborne on February 11 was shared on social media and sparked a fierce campaign against him.
The clip was played in Fremantle Magistrates Court on Tuesday, showing McPherson chasing the marsupial around the courtyard of an accommodation unit.
The first time he tried to kick it, he missed and when he connected with the animal, it squealed in pain.
A police prosecutor described the footage as disturbing, saying being trapped in the courtyard added to the quokka's distress.
McPherson and his friend Corey Douglas James, 21, who laughed as he captured the attack on his mobile phone, claimed they then released the quokka.
The prosecutor urged magistrate Peter Malone to impose a substantial fine, saying a petition expressing distaste for McPherson's actions had been signed by 24,000 people.
She said attacks on quokkas were becoming more prevalent and a strong message needed to be sent to deter people from such cowardly attacks.
But Mr Malone said he had no evidence quokka abuse was becoming more common, while McPherson's high-profile defence lawyer Tom Percy urged the magistrate not to be swayed by the petition.
"You get members of the community who want you to throw the key away," Mr Malone said.
Mr Percy said his client had been a fly-in fly-out mining sector apprentice, was on a one week break and had been drinking but wasn't drunk.
"He says his judgment was obviously affected," the lawyer said.
The act was opportunistic, impulsive and out-of-character, Mr Percy said.
"He should have know better - he certainly does now."
Mr Percy said McPherson, a former state championship-level surfer, had curbed his drinking, had sought counselling, and was continuing his apprenticeship.
The lawyer said his client had endured a "tsunami" of press coverage and even death threats.
"He has paid a significant price in relation to this matter already. Extremely vitriolic emails saying they hope he rots in jail and that sort of thing.
"It has been a shock for him and his family.
The court heard prominent footballers had vouched for McPherson's character in written submissions and he was accompanied on Tuesday by former AFL player Paul Peos.
Mr Malone said McPherson's youth and the fact he had been drinking didn't excuse the cruel act and a higher fine may have been justified but the fate of the quokka was not known.
James was fined $3500 in March.