Animal cruelty jail term boost
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