There is no life sentectes for any cruelty offences. Not in Australia or anywhere else as far as I know. Perhaps the RSPCA staff said on TV that someone like this should spend the rest of their life behind bars. Which I doubt many people would argue about.
The dog was called everything from a mastiff x to a staffy x. I think the Stafford reference came from the fact that the dog was black in colour. But certainly big. I'd hazard a guess to say Stafford x Boxer? Which would go some way to explain his extremely forgiving nature and tough as old boots constitution.
Link with photos:
Boof rescued from life on chain gang- Local Cairns News | cairns.com.au
The photo of the dog chained was taken by the neighbour prior to jumping in and rescuing him. Very smart thinking - a picture tells a thousand words... especially in the Courtroom.
If you click on the link under "Related Links" there are some happier pics.
He doesn't look underweight to me...