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Friday, December 9, 2011

How could he do it? Abattoir worker slit this puppy's throat because he couldn't afford vet's bill

-Man jailed for five months over sickening death of six-month-old lurcher
-Magistrate said incident was so serious 'prison was the only outcome'

By Daily Mail Reporter

A man who slit his puppy's throat and left her to bleed to death was jailed for five months yesterday and banned from keeping animals for life.

Robert Humphries, 40, did not want to pay a £70 bill to have the family pet put down by a vet and did the job himself in his garden.

Magistrates were told the former abattoir butcher used two kitchen knives to kill the six-month-old lurcher before dumping her in a wheelie bin.

Interviewed by RSPCA officers, he said that when the dog, named Shadow, crawled away whimpering and bleeding after he cut her throat, he stabbed her 'between the ribs' to 'finish her off'.

A vet said the dog would have taken between 10 and 30 minutes to die in 'extreme pain'.

The RSPCA discovered the horrific scene at Humphries's home in Taunton, Somerset, after being alerted by the vet's receptionist.

Neil Scott, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court that Humphries had gone to a vet in June wanting the dog rehomed or put down, saying it had attacked his 19-month-old daughter.

He claimed he could not afford to put her down, but when told it could be done for free, he said he would return with his pet.

But when he tried to do this, he claimed, Shadow attacked him and he decided to kill her.

Humphries, who is on disability benefits, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dog.

Magistrates were told that Humphries used two kitchen knives to slit Shadow's throat.

Humphries claimed that when the dog crawled away whimpering and bleeding heavily he stabbed her repeatedly to speed up her death.

When the RSPCA arrived at his home they found the dog with her legs tied together in a plastic bag dumped in a wheelie bin.

Humphries appeared at court in a wheelchair having fractured both his ankles in September.

Mr Scott told magistrates that Humphries had gone to a vet on the morning of June 28 this year wanting the dog re-homed or put down, claiming it had attacked his 19-month-old daughter.

Vets told him that it would cost £70 to euthanise the animal and another £30 for cremation.

Humphries said he did not have the money and when he was told it could be done for free, he said he would come back with his pet.

However, Humphries told RSPCA officers that when he tried to walk the dog to the vets she slipped her collar and attacked him and fearing further attacks he decided to kill the animal.

Mr Scott said there was no evidence of any injuries to show that Shadow had attacked either Humphries or his daughter.

He said: 'Mr Humphries asked his wife to pass him a kitchen knife, grabbed Shadow by the collar and started to cut Shadow’s neck.

'The dog was crying and yelping and trying to get away. He asked her to pass him another knife, which she did.

'He then stabbed the dog in the chest with the silver headed knife and following that stabbing the dog died.'

Meanwhile, staff at the veterinary surgery had contacted the RSPCA to see whether they could cremate the remains of the dog for free.

When the veterinary receptionist rang Humphries and told him that the charity would dispose of the puppy he told her: 'That’s great but the dog’s not quite dead yet and I’m waiting for her to bleed out before I bag her up and bring her in.'

Mr Scott added: 'The RSPCA were contacted about the genial manner of Mr Humphries.

'He was asked if the dog died straight away and he said no and he estimated that it had taken between five and six minutes.'

Savage: One of the knives used by Robert Humphries when he slit the throat of his puppy and left her to bleed to death

A post mortem examination found the lurcher had a 'large gaping wound' to the throat and stab wounds to the chest.

Mr Scott added: 'The injuries that were inflicted were totally unjustifiable.'

Humphries was interviewed later that day by the RSPCA and he told them: 'I couldn’t actually slit the throat properly with the knife.

'She just cried and started to bleed out and then she crawled away and lay down on the floor.

'That’s when I finished her off - I stuck a knife between her ribs.'

At an earlier hearing Humphries admitted a single charge of causing unnecessary suffering to the dog on June 28 this year.

Ed Boyce, defending, said that since the incident Humphries had separated from his wife and was involved in a custody battle for access to his daughter.

He said: 'He co-operated in the investigation of this matter and in my submission has expressed remorse for what occurred.

'Looking back in hindsight it was not the best course of action. He didn’t expect it to take as long as it did for her to pass away.'

Mr Boyce, who maintained Humphries had tied Shadow’s legs together after he stabbed her, said he was not in court for killing his dog but for the manner in which he had done it.

He said: 'The aim was legal and lawful and it was the means it was carried out. He certainly didn’t set out to cause suffering.'

The court heard that Humphries, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, could spend the next 18 months in a wheelchair following his accident.

But Sue Drysdale, chairman of the bench, told Humphries that the offence was so serious only a prison sentence was suitable.

She said: 'We have been made aware that there is a lot of emotion surrounding this case.

'We have made our decision on the law and the evidence and have not been affected by emotion.

'We feel that the offence is so serious, aggravated by the use of two weapons and the serious injury caused and followed by a slow and painful death, that only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.'

Mrs Drysdale said that Shadow was wearing a collar and was secure in Humphries’ back garden and was therefore not posing a danger to members of the public.

She added: 'We feel there was no need for such direct action and we are therefore imposing a 20-week custodial sentence.'

Magistrates also banned Humphries from keeping animals for life.

Immediately after the sentence was passed Mr Boyce submitted a notice to appeal against the sentence to the crown court and applied for bail.

Magistrates refused the bail application and Humphries was led away by guards to begin his prison sentence.

Speaking afterwards, RSPCA inspector Marie Griffiths, who led the investigation, welcomed the sentence.

She said: 'The RSPCA is extremely pleased with the result. It showed how serious the magistrates viewed this case. It was a horrific attack on a defenceless animal.

'A prison sentence was the only outcome.'



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