Monday, December 05, 2005
Northland Farmer Hillburn leaped to the front pages of our nation’s papers after killing three local dogs that he discovered toileting themselves in his illicit marijuana patch. At his trial, Hillburn claimed that he had not intended to kill the animals and that he was hopped up on P at the time. The dogs, two border collies and a schnauzer, were the pets of neighbours Samuel and Sarah Hohepa, aged 5 and 7. This situation led to a tearful episode on TV One’s Close Up where the children were gifted replacement pets by the show – Lois Davey, the Otago Daily Times' TV reviewer, called the episode “the most moving and important TV I’ve watched all year”. Ratings soared.
Most importantly, nobody lost out in this incident – which must be seen as one of the feel-good moments of 2005. As a child, nothing makes a new pet so precious as knowing that your last one was decapitated by a frenzied neighbor wielding a spade. Important lessons about the fleeting nature of life were learned and shared on Close Up that night, and child psychologists agree that it is developmentally important that children learn to deal with feelings of grief. Hillburn’s remorse over the incident is a sobering lesson to all those who think they can consume drugs like P without it affecting their personalities or their lives. A stark contrast to the blasé attitude exposed in popular culture by De Ja Voodoo’s song ‘P’. featuring the lyrics “I smoked P and I’m ok”
Hillburn was not imprisoned for his crime, and is currently residing in Westport where he has found work as a school caretaker.
She wanted to know if it was real or not, because she was "just reading it and thought 'Ooh, that would be a good story'".