Cornwall kitten torturer to serve 20 months in jail

The front entrance to the Cornwall courthouse at 29 Second Street West. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

WARNING: This story deals with animal torture and sexual attraction to animals and may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.

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CORNWALL – A Cornwall man convicted of seeking out kittens from online classified ads, videotaping their torture and then dumping them in the trash has been sentenced to just over one-and-a-half years in jail.

Corey Dennison, 31, was sentenced Friday (Sept. 10) by Judge Deborah Kinsella to two-years-less a day. With credit for pretrial custody and some credit for stringent bail conditions, he will serve roughly 20 months (600 days) in a provincial institution. It will likely be the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Center in Brockville, where he can access treatment for his sexual proclivity for harming animals.

Dennison pled guilty in January 2020 to one count of cruelty to 16 animals, one count of willful neglect of 16 animals, nine counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and one count of breach of probation.

During Kinsella’s sentencing Friday, court heard the stomach-churning details of the torture of at least 16 kittens. The acts were found on a “memory card full of disturbing videos” that was found by cleaners in October 2018 after Dennison was evicted from his Danis Avenue apartment.

“What the police discovered on that memory card is difficult to describe is even more difficult to comprehend,” Kinsella said. Dennison is seen in the videos torturing multiple kittens over the time frame of a couple of months. Some weapons are used in the acts. “In all of these videos the kittens are clearly in significant distress.”

Kinsella says Dennison provided a statement to police during his arrest where he admitted to buying the kittens through various Kijiji ads and then tortured them for a couple of days before disposing of their bodies in the garbage once they had died.

A sexual behaviours assessment found Dennison suffers from zoosadism. “That testing concluded that Mr. Dennison was in fact sexually aroused when watching pictures of scared and harmed cats and dogs with a greater response to cats.” The assessment found no evidence to support Dennison’s claim that he was hallucinating from doing drugs. The doctors also found Dennison has borderline personality disorder along with ADHD and substance abuse issues. He claimed to have no memory of carrying out the acts.

Court heard that Dennison had spiraled out of control after his seven year relationship fell apart, shortly before the torture acts began. In a letter of explanation by Dennison, he adds that he “engaged in some of the torture because he believed he needed to make a sacrifice to appease Satan and perhaps get back some of what he had lost,” the judge said.

Had he not pled guilty early on in the judicial process, Kinsella stressed she “would not hesitate” to sentence Dennison to three to four years in a federal penitentiary. The early plea was a significant mitigating factor because it’s a “genuine demonstration of remorse and a positive step toward rehabilitation,” Kinsella cited from case law.

She also noted that Dennison has “limited insight” into what he did and has not shown any “substantive efforts” at seeking treatment.

“Even though he has been diagnosed by an expert who clearly set out the way in which Mr. Dennison’s sexual paraphilia played a role in these offences. This is something Mr. Dennison is stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge. Instead, he continues to blame the offences on drug use, insomnia, hallucinations and other elements that are contradicted by the videos themselves which do not show Mr. Dennison in any kind of altered or disassociative (sic) state.”

She did not accept defence lawyer Keith Gordon’s argument that intense news media and social media scrutiny was a mitigating factor, saying no specific examples were brought before the court. “I’m unable to conclude that intense social media scrutiny in this case impacts any…sentencing objectives.”

Kinsella added the facts in this case are “clearly among some of the worst, if not the worst” acts of animal abuse.

Dennison was allowed to hug his family members before being taken away by a court officer. “Call me as soon as you can,” his mother said twice. “I love you.” There were five family members in the courtroom Friday.

After serving his sentence, Dennison will be on probation for three years “with a primary focus on treatment and counselling.”

He is also forbidden from owning, caring or living in the same place as a animal or bird for the rest of his life, given that Dennison is “unwilling or unable” to acknowledge his zoosadism paraphilia.