An­i­mal cru­elty jail term boost

Sunday Sun - - News - By Sara Ni­chol Job Ti­tle­chol@ncjme­

AN­I­MAL abusers could now face up to five years in prison un­der a tough new gov­ern­ment crack­down.

En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove said the 10-fold in­crease in the present six-month sen­tence was needed to com­bat the most se­ri­ous cru­elty.

The move comes after a series of cases in which courts said they would have liked to im­pose tougher sen­tences if they had the op­tion.

These in­clude in­stances when a man bought a num­ber of pup­pies just to bru­tally and sys­tem­at­i­cally beat, choke and stab them to death

In March this year, protesters gath­ered out­side Teesside Mag­is­trates’ Court when Richard Finch, 60, and Michael Heath­cock, 59, both from Red­car, were jailed for four months for their part in ham­mer­ing a nail in a dog’s head and bury­ing it alive in wood­land.

The crowd held ban­ners with pic­tures of the pet – called Scamp – and were cam­paign­ing for tougher prison sen­tences for the pair.

A walker found the small ter­rier dog with a nail in its skull after hear­ing “grunt­ing” from a mound in Kirkleatham Woods in Oc­to­ber 2016. He had to be put to sleep by a vet, who said it was the worst case of an­i­mal cru­elty he had ever seen.

Last month, Bruce El­liott, from West Den­ton, New­cas­tle, was jailed for 19 weeks for killing his preg­nant girl­friend’s dog after he “lost his tem­per”.

The 32-year-old left Smudge, a Jack Rus­sell, se­ri­ously ill out­side Mor­risons su­per­mar­ket at Den­ton Park.

After a passer-by went round his house to con­front him, El­liott walked to the su­per­mar­ket, snatched the dog and took her back to his house, re­fus­ing the take her to the vets.

An RSCPA in­spec­tor vis­ited the house to check on Smudge and called the po­lice when El­liott be­came ag­gres­sive.

She even­tu­ally man­aged to get to Smudge but it was too late and she was pro­nounced dead at a nearby vet surgery.

In June, Jill McMa­hon was lockedup for 16 weeks after she was seen to beat, punch and kick her Jack Rus­sell dog Mag­gie in an “in­tol­er­a­ble” act of cru­elty in the mid­dle of a street.

The 49-year-old dan­gled the help­less an­i­mal in the air by her lead, which was around her neck, and at­tacked her on­look­ers.

Mag­gie was taken to the vets and given in­tra­venous painkillers. The dog later died but due to an in­fec­tion and not the in­juries caused in the at­tack. in front of hor­ri­fied New leg­is­la­tion un­veiled yes­ter­day will also en­able courts to deal more ef­fec­tively with ruth­less gangs in­volved in or­gan­ised dog fights, the En­vi­ron­ment De­part­ment said.

Mr Gove said: “We are a na­tion of an­i­mal lovers and so we must en­sure that those who com­mit the most shock­ing cru­elty to­wards an­i­mals face suit­ably tough pun­ish­ments.

“These plans will give courts the tools they have re­quested to deal with the most ab­hor­rent acts.”

Un­der the plans, courts will re­tain the abil­ity to hand out un­lim­ited fines and ban an of­fender from own­ing an­i­mals, but also have the abil­ity to sen­tence the worst cases more harshly.

The RSPCA’s David Bowles said: “We are thrilled the gov­ern­ment has re­sponded to calls from the RSPCA and mem­bers of the pub­lic to toughen up sen­tences for the worst an­i­mal abusers. We now feel that those who com­mit these acts will soon be re­ceiv­ing sen­tences that re­flect the se­ri­ous­ness of their crime.”

Scamp the ter­rier, who was bru­tally killed

Bruce El­liot, jailed for killing a dog

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