A 23-year-old man was found guilty Wednesday of killing a protected deer in a popular park in the western Japan prefecture of Nara earlier this year.

The Nara District Court sentenced Hayato Yoshii to 10 months in prison, suspended for three years with probation, for attacking the deer with an ax around 2 a.m. on Feb. 7 in Nara Park.

File photo taken in May 2020 shows deer in Nara. (Kyodo)

About 1,300 deer in the park, a major tourist attraction, are protected under Japan's cultural properties protection law.

"The defendant did not value the animal's life. His act was brutal and malicious," Judge Risa Ishikawa said in handing down the ruling to Yoshii, noting his motive for the attack was that he became furious after one of the deer suddenly rammed his car but that cannot justify his action.

He was accused of violating the law that protects cultural properties after killing the female deer, estimated to be 11 years old. Police were notified by a passerby about the attack and identified the suspect using surveillance camera footage of the area.

In the ruling, the court also found Yoshii guilty of drunken driving in Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture, around 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 10, and possessing a Japanese sword without authorization, in violation of the country's weapons law.

The sword was found when his home in the city was searched by investigators on March 2, according to the court.

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