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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."

The barrister said the pattern of blood on the walls suggested a "profusely" bleeding cat had been swung around the room.

He said officers also found fragments of bone, an eyeball and part of a jaw with the tongue still attached on the living room floor.

Three of the kittens were found in a freezer and the fourth was found decapitated upstairs. Its head was never found.

The skulls of the other cats had all been crushed and nearly every limb had been fractured.

Mr Wood said: "Prior to their deaths, these kittens had been subjected to unimaginable cruelty."

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.

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 told Payne: "For some reason, you decided to take your frustrations out on these innocent creatures who looked to you for their care."

He added: "You had killed three of them in circumstances which for them can only have been in the most unimaginable terror.

"Each of them was swung round the room deliberately, no doubt as to cause the maximum distress, and all of them had their skulls broken."

Judge Bartfield continued: "The police and RSPCA were greeted by the most horrific scene, with the living room spread about with the remains of these unfortunate creatures."

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.

Bespectacled Payne, wearing a short-sleeved red checked shirt and jeans, stood in the dock with his hands clasped in front of him and showed no expression as he was jailed.

He was also banned from keeping animals for life.

Payne was handed a suspended sentence in June this year for fraud by abuse of position.

Mr Wood told the court the defendant, who was acting as an accountant, kept a £3,587 tax rebate from a client.

He received calls to resign from his position as an independent councillor after this conviction but only stepped down from the role earlier this month.

Speaking after today's sentencing, Keith Dredge, a Labour councillor for the same ward, said he felt sickened to hear the details of the cruelty.

"Justice has been done and this guy's been removed from local politics," he said.

"The guy's obviously got problems and being a councillor has not helped him. He's done nothing for the constituency, he's done nothing for himself."

Mr Dredge continued: "All I'm thankful for is that Robert Payne is now out of the council. He's gone and we can start a new chapter in Keighley West."