There’s an old Chinese saying that goes: “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey.”
Roughly translated it means the best way to intimidate a big rival is to destroy a smaller one.
But what happens after that? One man in China appears to have just found out.
In a curious court case being reported in the country’s state-owned media, a man identified only by his surname Gu was this week sentenced to prison after a court found him guilty of scaring to death 1,100 chickens that belonged to a neighbor with whom he was feuding.
The pair had reportedly been squabbling since the neighbor, Zhong, cut down Gu’s trees without permission in April 2022.
The court in Hengyang county of central China’s Hunan province heard that Gu had responded by sneaking onto Zhong’s chicken farm during the night on more than one occasion.
It is unclear what Gu’s intentions were but the flashlight he used caused the flock to panic and as the birds crowded into a corner in fear, hundreds of them died in the ensuing crush.
The first time Gu trespassed onto his neighbor’s property, he caused a crush in which 500 chickens died. He was apprehended by police and forced to pay Zhong compensation of 3,000 yuan ($436).
But he didn’t stop there and returned to Zhong’s property a second time, this time killing 640 chickens.
On Tuesday, the Hengyang court ruled that Gu had intentionally caused “property loss” to Zhong.
Chinese authorities said that the 1,100 dead chickens were estimated to be worth a total of 13,840 yuan ($2,015).
The court ordered Gu to serve six months in prison with one year of probation – a sentence it said took into account the remorse Gu had shown for his crime.