The conviction and $462 fine for Gary the goat’s destruction of property outside of Sydney, Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art has been overturned.
James Dezarnaulds is a comedian who goes by the stage name Jimbo Bazoobi as he tours Australia with his goat Gary.
In August 2012 Dezarnaulds was charged with destroying property when his goat Gary was observed eating grass and flowers outside Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. He was convicted and fined $462.*
Dezarnaulds appealed on several grounds. His lawyer Paul McGirr argued the ordinance was intended to apply to the destruction of property by a person not an animal, and that Gary was only eating and there was no evidence he intended to destroy property or that Dezarnaulds put him up to it.
The hearing of Dezarnaulds appeal was a major media event in Australia. Dezarnaulds’ conviction and fine were quashed on January 23, 2013 by Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on the basis he “had no control over what the goat might eat, he might have preferred an ice cream.” However, Dezarnaulds’ request to have his legal fees was denied.
Outside courthouse, Dezarnaulds told reporters, “Gary’s name has been cleared of all this slander. He was simply eating and I want to thank everyone for coming down here. This is actually an abuse of the laws of nature, I mean it was a goat eating grass. I’m a comedian, I can come up with jokes, but it’s pretty hard to compete with cops coming up with this stuff. It’s obviously a joke, but the fact that we’re here it’s gone a bit beyond a joke.”
There was speculation Gary could be charged with public urination for relieving himself outside the museum, but Dezarnaulds observed, “Gary the goat taught the cops a valuable lesson today, don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
* In August 2012 the exchange rate was $1.05 Australian dollar to $1 U.S. dollar, so Dezarnaulds’ AUS$440 fine was equal to US$462.