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When South Dunedin 48-year-old Shane Waller was disturbed by the sound of spring newborns from an adjoining property, he became increasingly enraged.
"Sheep make an awful lot of noise . . . and it’s an irritating noise," defence counsel Andy Belcher explained.
"I live in the country and I have to listen to them all the time and there’s nothing I can do about that."
But the bleating on November 24 was enough to prompt Waller to act.
He visited the neighbour — a 36-year-old man — to complain, but was told to leave.
An hour later, while "moderately-to-highly intoxicated", the defendant returned, challenging the victim to a fight.
The man ignored him and closed the door.
Undeterred, Waller was back later, again verbally abusing the victim in the hope of provoking a brawl.
"He approached the problem in the only way he knows, which is to use robust language," Mr Belcher said.
Waller repeatedly yelled at the victim: "If you don’t sort your lambs, I’ll slit your throat and I’ll slit their throats".
Neighbours who heard the spat were "alarmed", Judge Michael Turner said, and the defendant continued to act aggressively while police arrived at the scene.
Mr Belcher told the court his client had been subject to threats and violence since he was a child and did not believe he was doing anything wrong.
"It was words alone. It wasn’t accompanied by any throat-slitting gestures or anything more than that," he said.
According to council guidelines, farm animals were not to be kept in residential areas, precisely because of the noise they made, Mr Belcher said.
As a result of the charges, Waller had spent two months behind bars and had lost his rental property, the court heard.
Judge Turner noted the defendant’s previous convictions for violence and said he was serving a sentence for assault at the time of the incident.
Waller was jailed for seven months, and an intensive supervision sentence he was subject to was cancelled.