Man jailed for microwaving rabbit
A man who microwaved his pet rabbit to death has been jailed for 16 weeks - with a judge branding the killing "sadistic".
Paul Rogers, 60, watched as the helpless creature writhed and squealed inside the oven for three minutes before leaving its lifeless body on a saucepan lid in his room.
The homeless drifter, who was living temporarily at the Dorchester Guesthouse in Gloucester, had bought the female rabbit only five days earlier from a pet shop.
He named it Fluffy George Fudge and let it run free in his hotel room, feeding it dandelions during its five days of freedom, Cheltenham Magistrates' Court heard.
Rogers, who spent periods in psychiatric hospitals, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to causing an animal unnecessary suffering on October 28 last year.
Passing sentence, District Judge Joti Boparai said Rogers had planned the killing - branding it "sadistic".
"This is one of the most upsetting and unpleasant cases I have dealt with for a long time," she said.
"Animal cruelty is bad enough when people abuse their pets, but this has resulted in very extreme suffering by a helpless rabbit.
"You thought about it, you planned it and you decided to carry out this sadistic act - and not only that, once you put the rabbit in that microwave you watched it while it squealed in that microwave.
"Three minutes is an extremely long time for anything to be suffering in the way I have heard."
The judge said that perpetrators of this kind of cruelty have to be "punished in the extreme" in order to send a message to the public that this type of crime will not be accepted by society.
"Your case passes the custody threshold but I have to consider whether I can suspend the sentence," the judge said.
"This case is so cruel and the suffering of that animal is so extreme that regardless of your personal circumstances I cannot suspend it.
"Therefore the sentence will be 16 weeks."
Rogers, of no fixed address, was also banned from keeping animals for life and told he could not apply to have the ban lifted for 10 years. He was also ordered to pay £200 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
Rafe Turner, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said a fellow resident at the guest house had made the grim discovery after going to Rogers' room to feed the rabbit - finding it dead on a saucepan lid next to the microwave.
Rogers had earlier told the man he had killed it after microwaving it for three minutes but the man did not believe him and thought he was "taking the mickey".
After finding the rabbit the man called the police, who seized the pet and the microwave.
Mr Turner said afterwards Rogers went to a homeless shelter in Gloucester and spoke to a support worker.
"He seemed distressed and said to the worker 'I put my rabbit in the microwave'," Mr Turner said.
"The gentleman thought he had said it flippantly and took him to another room where, unprovoked, Mr Rogers said he had taken the rabbit out of its cage and put it in the microwave where he had listened to it squeal and wriggle around before it stopped.
"He said he had held it afterwards and it was stiff like a board. He was openly telling people what had occurred, there was no secrecy."
The court heard that tests on Fluffy George Fudge found she had died as a result of "probable microwave injury" and would have suffered for a "prolonged period of time".
Rogers told the police that he killed his pet because he was "not happy with his lot" after being denied the medication he believed he should have been prescribed.
"I didn't want blood on my hands and I felt the most humane way to put her out of her misery was to put her in the microwave," Rogers said.
He also said he had "no remorse whatsoever" and added: "Not even a grain of sand on a beach. I would be lying if I said I did."
Helen Smith, defending, said Rogers had spent periods as an inpatient at psychiatric hospitals during his life.
"This case is shocking and distasteful but you do have to put the circumstances of this case into the context of this particular defendant," she said.
"Prior to this incident he was an inpatient at Wotton Lawn psychiatric unit. He was released and his perception was that he was not being provided with appropriate medication.
"Shortly after this incident he spent another period as an inpatient.
"This incident is totally out of character and his responses in interview are bizarre, but are indicative of his poor health at the time."
Inspector Philip Mann, of the RSPCA, welcomed the sentencing saying the judge had imposed the maximum sentence under law.
"We think the prison sentence is completely appropriate in a case like this where you can only really describe the defendant as evil in what he did," he said.
"It is one of the nastiest cases I have come across.
"Obviously we completely welcome the ban. It is the most important thing to make sure the gentleman doesn't have anything to do with animals again."