A man who pinned two kittens to the floor and beat them to death has been jailed for 20 weeks.
Aaron Jay Barker, aged 26, of Songthrush Avenue, in Basford, Nottingham, was found guilty yesterday (Tuesday 19 December) of causing unnecessary suffering to the two kittens following a two-day trial at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.
The court case heard evidence from an RSPCA inspector who investigated the case, and from vet experts.
The prosecution was brought by the RSPCA after Barker took the two dead four-month-old black kittens – who he had only had for a week – to an emergency vet on the evening of 20 January this year.
He told the vet that he had returned home to find both kittens – a male called Panther and a female called Baby – lying on the sofa covered in blood.
Panther had died before Barker set off for the vets and Baby died in the car on the way to the vets.
As the kittens were black, their injuries were not immediately obvious – but a post-mortem examination showed that the kittens suffered a number of serious injuries. Panther had a number of fractures to his skull, several haemorrhages on his brain, two fractured ribs, haemorrhages and fluid in his lungs, haemorrhages around his neck muscles and an abrasion above his right eye.
Baby suffered five fractured ribs, haemorrhages and fluid in her lungs, multiple blood clots in his abdomen and a ruptured liver.
The severity of the injuries led the vet to believe they were caused by blunt force trauma, and as a result the RSPCA became involved.
Barker had claimed that someone had broken into his house and inflicted the injuries on the kittens, and that he tried to give them a bath to wash away blood and faeces – but as he did so Panther jumped out of his arms, hit the bottom of the bath and died.
But vet experts in court said that the injury Panther suffered to his brain meant he would not have been able to move and that the injuries were consistent with the kittens being pinned to the floor and beaten.
They also had injuries to their claws – which a vet expert said in court could have been caused by the kittens scrabbling on a hard surface and “trying to get away”.
Timescales given by the vet experts pointed to the injuries being inflicted on the kittens when Barker was in the house on his own.
Magistrates found him guilty of two Animal Welfare Act offences of causing unnecessary suffering to Panther and Baby, and sentenced him to 20 weeks in prison. He was also given a lifetime ban on keeping animals.
RSPCA inspector Laura Kirkham said: “This has been the most horrific case I have dealt with in almost 13 years as an RSPCA inspector.
“From the moment I was made aware of the injuries on both kittens, l have spent many sleepless nights thinking about the horrifying ordeal that they were put through. Baby and Panther were two practically defenceless four-month-old kittens who were subjected to a deliberate assault resulting in fractured ribs, a ruptured liver, brain haemorrhages and many other appalling injuries.
“In no circumstances is this kind of assault defensible and this case shows why the RSPCA as well as many other individuals and organisations have been campaigning so tirelessly to increase the sentencing for cases of this kind.
“I would like to thank all of those involved with the case, without whom this outcome would not have been possible. Whilst it was too late to save Baby and Panther, I hope that this sentence will prevent any other animals having to go through what they went through.”