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Protest planned against accused Kelowna hamster torturer

‘We don’t want it to escalate. What’s next after this? If he just gets a slap on the wrist, what will happen after?’
Leighton Allen Labute faces charges of animal abuse and allegedly has a string of social media accounts depicting disturbing content. (Contributed)

A Kelowna resident wants to see Leighton Labute punished for his alleged animal abuse and has planned a protest prior to his court appearance on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The protest is planned for 1 p.m. outside the Kelowna Law Courts, half an hour before 20-year-old Labute makes his second appearance in front of a judge since being charged earlier this year.

In May, Labute was charged with three counts of killing or injuring an animal and three counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, all of which stem from an alleged incident of him torturing hamsters in May 2019.

BoDreay Fraser organized the protest and said she wants to raise more awareness about what Labute has done, calling for a harsher punishment.

“He’s done a horrific thing and just the fact that he was released on bail and he’s still in the community… with those gory allegations, and gory imagery on his social media, we just don’t want this to happen again,” she said.

“We don’t want it to escalate. What’s next after this? If he just gets a slap on the wrist, what will happen after?”

She said many in the community worry about what Labute could do, especially with the depictions of gore and sexual violence from his social media.

“Even if he just gets a slap on the wrist, at least (the protest) will give a scope of what the community feels and maybe it’ll get him back in court with different charges or a different outcome,” Fraser added.

She said there has been positive feedback so far but due to COVID-19 concerns, there may not be a big turnout.

“Even if there are only a few people out there, it will still make a difference.”

Those interested in going to the protest are asked to bring masks and to observe proper physical distancing.

READ: Kelowna man’s alleged hamster torture prompts animal rights group response

READ: Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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Twila Amato

About the Author: Twila Amato

Twila was a radio reporter based in northern Vancouver Island. She won the Jack Webster Student Journalism Award while at BCIT and received a degree in ancient and modern Greek history from McGill University.
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