Cat-swinging case thrown out
Friday 01 June 2012
The case against a man accused of swinging a cat by its tail in the street was thrown out of court today because of a lack of evidence.
After hearing the prosecution's case against 20-year-old Riain Richards, magistrates decided there was not enough evidence for a conviction and no case to answer.
Richards, of Clements Road, Ramsgate, Kent, was alleged to have swung two-year-old Mowgli around about 17 times in 30 seconds in front of friends who cheered him on, Dover Magistrates' Court was told.
Richards denied causing unnecessary suffering to the cat on October 29 last year.
The court heard that the attack would have left the cat physically and mentally traumatised.
Magistrate Gillian Monk said: "Cruelty of any description is abhorrent to civilised society and we are saddened and sickened by the way that the cat was tortured that morning."
Mrs Monk said that, having considered all the evidence present and submissions made by both sides, there was no case to answer.
She said: "The CCTV and photographic evidence presented is of such poor quality that it is hard to identify any distinguishing features.
"No forensic evidence was found at Mr Richards' home or on his computer.
"Nothing we have seen or heard has securely placed his hands on that cat."
The court was told that the incident, which took place near The Camden Arms in La Belle Alliance Square, Ramsgate, was captured on CCTV which was released by the RSPCA.
It shows the animal's attacker seemingly dancing down the road with the black cat at arm's length. The animal is then seen hitting the arm of another man.
RSPCA prosecutor Rowan Jenkins said Lynne Jarvis, a neighbour of the cat's owner, Michelle Buchanan, looked out of her window when she heard a commotion outside.
He said Miss Jarvis could hear "horrible laughter" and saw a group of youths swinging around what she thought was a cardigan. But when she realised it was next door's cat she went outside to remonstrate with the group, he said.
Miss Jarvis said other people with the man swinging the cat "were jeering and loving every minute of it", he said.
The man put the cat down after Miss Jarvis swore at him, the prosecutor said.
Miss Buchanan was told about the attack by her neighbour when she returned home from work later that day, the court heard.
In a statement read to the court, Miss Buchanan said Mowgli came home at about 9pm and seemed withdrawn but physically fine.
"He seemed lifeless. I would say really, really sad," she said.
Since the incident the cat has been too frightened to go outside and his behaviour has dramatically changed, she said.
CCTV of the attack was seen by a vet who said the cat would have suffered physical and mental trauma from being swung at such force, the court was told.
On November 11 last year, Mr Richards attended Margate police station voluntarily with his solicitor and gave a no-comment interview to RSPCA inspector Caroline Doe, the court heard.
Richards gave the RSPCA permission to search his home but nothing was found to link him to the attack, magistrates were told.
Paul Goldspring, defending Mr Richards, said three other names of people who could be the man captured on the CCTV were given to the RSPCA inspector, as well as that of Mr Richards.
There was no evidence to identify the man in the video as his client, which meant there was no case to answer, he told the court.
Following the trial, Miss Doe said she was very disappointed that there had not been a conviction.
She said: "Crucial evidence came from a witness who failed to turn up. We put a lot of hard work into the case but we will not be looking to pursue anyone else in connection with it."
Mr Richards refused to comment as he left the court.
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