Man who filmed shark being dragged to death sentenced to 10 days in jail
A 33-year-old Floridian man has been sentenced to just 10 days in jail for his role in a cruel video depicting the death of a shark. Robert Benac III, a resident of the coastal town of Bradenton, eventually agreed a plea deal which will allow him to serve his sentence on weekends, as well as carry out 250 hours of community service at an animal shelter, and pay a fine of $2,500.
Watch the shocking clip here:
The video at the centre of the incident first emerged back in 2017, where it was widely condemned on social media. In the clip, the captured fish is seen attached to the back of a boat by a rope, as Benac III drives the boat at excessive speed while a group of companions goad him on. The trauma of being bounced through the surf leads eventually caused the shark to die a painful death.
The incident with the shark was not the only accusation levelled at Benac and his accomplices. According to a report in the Bradenton Herald, several other clips were also shared on social media, showing Benac and others apparently shooting at live sharks, as well as pouring beer down other fishes’ throats while they were still alive. Both actions are an offence.
Benac, who the Bradenton Herald report is the son of Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, was accused alongside Michael Wenzel and Spencer Heintz, though the charges against 24-year-old Heintz were ultimately dropped in exchange for his testimony against the other two.
Due to the prevalence of the incriminating online clips, Benac’s legal team were desperate for their client to take a plea deal. As attorney Justin Petredis told The Tampa Bay Times:
"We were confident in what we could do and what we could show, but at the end of the day you can never be 100 percent confident in the jury system. That was a worry, that the anger and emotions of the jury would outweigh where we were hoping common sense would take over."
Given that several protestors turned up at the court to demand harsher punishment for the men, Benac might consider himself lucky to have got off so lightly.