The man accused of spraying oven cleaner into a dog's face
has been found guilty by a jury in the Wellington District
Sergey Zhernov, 59, sprayed a labrador staffordshire bull
terrier cross, Toko, at an off-lead dog walking area in Ascot
Park, Porirua on January 8 last year.
He has been standing trial in Wellington District Court
charged with ill-treatment of an animal.
Zhernov claimed he was acting in self-defence when he sprayed
the oven cleaner, which he carried in case he was attacked by
He gave evidence today that he feared for his life after he
was cornered by the dog's owner, who he said was shouting and
trying to hit him.
Toko's owner, Donna Peiwharangi, yesterday gave evidence that
Zhernov sprayed oven cleaner into Toko's face twice while
they were out walking.
She said Zhernov was wearing safety glasses at the time.
Toko had to be treated by a vet for a burn to her eye.
A jury of six women and six men retired to consider their
verdict at 1.25pm today and returned the guilty verdict about
Zhernov was sentenced to 75 hours of community work and
reparation of $263.40.
In his summing up earlier today, Judge Tuohy warned the jury
about drawing links to the recent dog attack in Murupara,
which he said had nothing to do with this case.
He also warned the jury against testing the can of oven
cleaner allegedly used by Zhernov to see how far it would
Judge Tuohy said the jury should rely on the evidence they
had heard, rather than carrying out their own experiments in
the jury room.
People could have strong sympathy or antipathy towards dogs,
but Judge Tuohy said the jury needed to put those feelings
In his closing, defence lawyer Michael Bott said his client
had acted in self-defence and had only sprayed the dog once -
not twice as the Crown had argued.
Under the law, everyone was justified in using reasonable
force in self-defence, he said.
At the time of the incident, Zhernov had been frightened and
"He acted out of a genuine fear for his personal safety," Mr
Crown prosecutor Jamie Eng said Toko's owner had told the
truth, while Zhernov's account of events was an "absolute
Mr Eng said the jury could not be satisfied Zhernov had acted