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Ex-councillor jailed for cat deaths

A former councillor who killed four kittens in "appalling scenes" of "unimaginable cruelty" has been jailed.

Robert Payne, a former councillor for the Keighley West ward of Bradford Council, swung the four-month-old cats round his house, broke their skulls and most of their limbs and decapitated two of them.

Police and RSPCA officers called to his home in Ethel Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire, found three kittens in a freezer, blood spread around the house and fragments of the animals in the living room.

Payne, 36, who was drunk when police arrived, told officers he "must have got angry about something, picked up one of the cats by its stomach and used it as a battering ram, smashed its head against something".

Stephen Wood, prosecuting, told Bradford Crown Court that a neighbour called police on November 15 this year when she heard banging and the sound of a cat screaming.

Mr Wood said: "The police went inside and they were met with what the prosecution submit was an appalling scene, with fragments of dismembered parts of animals over the house, together with a substantial quantity of blood."

Payne, who bought the kittens over the internet, told police he was not "100%" sure what had happened but said it was "more than likely" he had killed them.

He was jailed for five months for causing unnecessary suffering to the kittens and was handed a month to be served consecutively for breaching a previous suspended sentence for fraud. He was also banned from keeping animals for life.

Sentencing Payne, Judge Robert Bartfield described him as "a coward" for not fully admitting the "extreme and gratuitous violence" he had meted out to the kittens.

The judge said people feeling "revulsion" at the case would wonder why Payne was not being sent to prison for years, but he said he was bound by sentencing guidelines, which state a maximum prison term of six months for such an offence.

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