inadequate fines for cowardly soldiers

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    Soldiers in the north Queensland city of Townsville claim they have stopped wearing their uniforms in public because of the fear of retaliation over the torture and killing of a litter of kittens.

    Some soldiers say they have been spat at and threatened after six soldiers from Lavarack Barracks appeared in the Townsville magistrates court on May 10 and pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

    They had urinated on a litter of kittens and dragged one behind a motorcycle then crushed its head under the tyre of a four-wheel dive and doused the others with fuel and set them alight while still alive.

    They were fined $2,000 and ordered to do community service - but escaped without convictions being recorded.

    A Brisbane newspaper today quoted the president of the Townsville RSL, Rod McLeod, as saying years of hard work to forge a bond between the people of Townsville and the Australian Defence Force had been damaged.

    "The good work done by a lot of good people has gone to pieces because of the stupidity of a few who have shamed the whole army and made others carry a heavy burden," Mr McLeod said.

    (The guilty soldiers have now been discharged.)

    Soldiers who spoke anonymously to the Courier-Mail said they were uneasy in public after the cruelty case erupted.

    "I have heard about a soldier being spat at and I have been heckled down at the shops," one soldier said.

    "I feel disappointed and shamed because I am really proud to wear the uniform but I hate going out in public in it at the moment."


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