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Man filmed hitting turtle to death with hammer claims he killed reptile in self-defence

The Independent logo The Independent 27/07/2016 Alexandra Sims

© Provided by Independent Print Limited A man who was filmed hitting a turtle to death with a hammer has claimed he killed the reptile in self-defence.

Terry Wayne Washington was seen by a crowd of witnesses killing the turtle with a hammer after he and a man, later identified as his friend, accidently reeled in the animal while fishing on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas on 21 June.

According to Austin police, witnesses, one of whom filmed the incident, said Washington's friend pulled the turtle to shore with a hammer after it became caught in his line. Washington then took up the tool and used the blunt end to hit the turtle while it was still attached to the fishing line, Fox 7 reports.

Washington hit the turtle more than 10 times, breaking its shell and crushing its head, according to police. He then dragged the carcass under a bridge and left it at the scene.

The 55-year-old has admitted killing the animal, which weighed around 40 pounds, saying he smashed it in self-defence after it lunged at him and attempted to bite him.

turtle-hammer-death.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited turtle-hammer-death.jpg Washington's friend, who has not been identified in reports, told police, the turtles "were being a real nuisance that day because they kept eating their bait and scaring fish away," 3 News reports.

Witnesses have reportedly disputed Washington's claims, saying the turtle did not attack the fishermen and was instead attempting to return to the water.

In court documents, cited by 3 News, police say Washington could have easily cut the line to let the turtle free.

Washington has been charged with cruelty to non-life stock animals.

In a further incident in June, an endangered turtle was badly injured after being beaten and stood on by people taking selfies on a beach in Lebanon.

The male loggerhead sea turtle is receiving treatment after being dragged out of the surf at Havana beach, just south of Beirut.

In February, a crowd on a beach in Buenos Aires, Argentina was accused of “casual cruelty” when footage emerged appearing to show them removing a baby dolphin from the water, causing it to overheat and die.

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