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Man who admitted animal cruelty jailed for three months

By George Jackson

A 23-year-old man who admitted three charges of causing unnecessary cruelty to three of his five dogs, has been jailed for three months and ordered to pay kennelling costs of £14,000.

Michael Stephen Conwell, from Slievebuoy Park in Claudy, also received a lifetime ban against keeping pet dogs, the magistrates court in Derry heard yesterday.

He was later released on his own bail of £500 to appeal against the jail sentence imposed on him.

A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told District Judge Barney McElholm that the three dogs were placed in kennels in a veterinary clinic exactly one year ago. She said the cost of keeping the dogs in the kennels was just over £1,100 per month.

The dogs, a lurcher, a patterdale and a patterdale-cairn cross breed were found in the defendant's home on February 22 of last year. They were moved from the house by police officers who were accompanied by an animal welfare officer. All of the dogs had serious injuries to their mouths.

No evidence was given in the case after the defendant's guilty pleas. Instead he was convicted on tendered evidence placed before the district judge.

Mr McElholm said the dogs had clearly been attacked by a larger animal, possibly a badger or another dog. He said the court had to send out a message that causing unnecessary suffering to animals would not be tolerated.

"Whatever other animal or animals were involved, quite clearly it involved causing unnecessary suffering to the three dogs and they were involved in something which should not have happened", the district judge said.

The prosecution barrister said she had been instructed to apply for destruction orders for two of the dogs.

She said because of their aggressive behaviour it would now be impossible to have them rehomed.

However, the district judge said he was refusing the destruction application.

"This court is not in the business of killing dogs and I refuse to make any order for the destruction of the dogs", he said.

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