A MAN who killed a fox “in a sadistic and prolonged act of cruelty” has been sent to prison for five months and banned from keeping dogs for life.
William Burrell, 50, of Short Street, Stapenhill, was jailed after being found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a wild animal by confining it to a cage before allowing a dog to attack, and causing or attempting to cause an animal fight.
Burrell was arrested and taken into custody by officers after a one-and-a-half hour sentencing hearing at Burton Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
At a previous hearing it was said Burrell caged the fox for eight hours before fitting a lead around its neck and ‘slinging’ it in a dog kennel to be mauled to death “like a rag doll.” The fox finally died from a ‘fatal blow’ to the head with a piece of wood.
Burrell had claimed he killed the fox instantly with three blows to its skull, before slinging the animal’s dead carcass to a Staffordshire bull terrier kept in a pen at his house.
John Sutcliffe, prosecuting, said this act of cruelty ‘shows total lack of humanity’.
He said: “If he is able to do this to an animal who knows what else he is capable of? “Burrell is clearly not capable of keeping animals, and with behaving the way he has, I’m calling for a life-long ban to prevent him from keeping dogs again.
“He killed the fox in a sadistic and prolonged manner.” Simon Dean, defending, said: “My client accepts what he did was wrong, he’s very sorry, and understands how serious this matter is.
“He should not have behaved like that. I think unpaid work would be more beneficial as this would be like pay back to the community.”
However, magistrate Linda Cooper said the offence was so serious jail would be the only option.
She said: “For the serious offence of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal you will go to prison for five months and for causing an animal to fight you will also serve five months, to run concurrently.
“Had you pleaded guilty you would have only served three months.
“You carried out a sadistic and prolonged act of cruelty and deliberately put the fox in the pen to fight.” RSPCA Inspector Penny Barker said she was ‘extremely pleased’ with the sentence, as this was the ‘worst and most horrific’ case of animal cruelty she had ever seen in her career.
She said: “This incident will send out a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated and people caught doing such acts will be prosecuted. I hope this warns other people.”
Inspector Barker added: “It is not an offence to catch a fox in a humane trap. However, the way in which the animal is disposed of must be humane. The manner in which this fox was killed was both illegal and inhumane, causing barbaric suffering to the animal.
“The RSPCA recognises the necessity of capturing animals on a limited scale for a variety of reasons. However, there is never any justification for inflicting a cruel and painful death on any animal, regardless of species.
This fox was killed by being set on by a dog and clearly this is a horrific way to die.”
Frederick Powell, defending, said: ”The RSPCA knew this fox had been caged at 7.30am, however they chose not to respond until 2pm.”