Man spared jail over sex with dog
Friday 24 August 2012
A father of three who had sex with his ex-wife's bull mastiff dog was spared a prison sentence today.
Nicholas Saunders, 46, was caught in bed with Sasha by Kelly Thacker, mother of two of his children.
Saunders, of Lechlade, Gloucestershire, was convicted by a jury at Gloucester Crown Court in June of having intercourse with an animal.
Today the court heard that Saunders continues to deny his guilt.
Recorder Stewart Patterson sentenced Saunders to a two-year community order, placed him on the sex offenders register for five years and ordered him to attend a sex offenders' treatment programme.
He told Saunders: "On January 15 2011 you had a row with your partner and as a result of that you went to visit your ex-partner of some considerable years.
"Having visited her, you took to her bed while she was downstairs.
"Ms Thacker was not asleep and she heard you summoning the dog, a bull mastiff, to the bedroom.
"She then went to see what was happening and she saw what you were doing.
"You were performing an act of penetration of the dog's vagina with your penis."
The judge added: "It is quite clear your behaviour that night demonstrates a distorted sexualised thinking which needs to be addressed by you.
"Although you continue to deny the incident, I am heartened to see you are fully prepared to work with the Probation Service to address these issues."
Saunders was also made the subject of a restraining order for four years, which bans him from any property where Ms Thacker and her children live unless he gets a court order or written permission from his ex-wife.
Ms Thacker told the court of her shock at discovering her ex-husband having intercourse with the family pet.
During the two-day trial in June, Ms Thacker, who has teenage twin girls with Saunders, told the court she rejected her ex-husband's advances towards her after he had a fight with his bipolar girlfriend and sought comfort at her home.
It was soon afterwards that she found him having sex with Sasha.
The jury was told Saunders, a fencing contractor, and his ex-wife remained on good terms following their separation 13 years ago. Saunders went to her house at around 1.45am.
The prosecution said he was looking for more than just comfort that night and when Ms Thacker made clear to him that he did not have a chance with her, he turned to the large female dog.
Giving evidence, Ms Thacker, who owns a male boxer as well as the bull mastiff, said Saunders told the dog "You've just ruined my chances" when it jumped on to the bed between herself and her ex-husband.
She told the court she took this to mean he had wanted to have sex with her.
After going downstairs, she heard her ex-husband whistle to the dogs, calling them to come upstairs.
A little while later she went to check on Saunders, who she said had been "a little bit drunk".
But when she got halfway up the stairs she looked through the banisters and saw something that left her in shock.
"It was just too quiet, whereas he'd been mumbling before, so I thought I would just go and check," she said.
"I didn't go all the way up, just halfway to the top banister. The bull mastiff was leant on her side and he (Saunders) was trying to guide his penis into her.
"I think I must have hit some kind of shock and I hid back a bit. I then looked round again.
"He was on all fours holding her thighs. He was having intercourse with her. She wasn't even moving."
Ms Thacker added: "It was just utter shock, you don't think anything like this could happen."
Saunders denied the charge and claimed his ex-wife had seen him merely "climbing over the dog" to get out of bed to use the toilet.
He told the court it was he who spurned Ms Thacker's advances that night and claimed he merely "tolerated" his ex-wife for the sake of their children.
He claimed it was because he had not wanted to sleep with her that she made up the allegation against him.
"The allegation is a total lie," he told jurors.
But the jury did not believe him and unanimously convicted him of the charge.
Following his arrest, Saunders was asked to provide an "intimate sample" from his penis which, following forensic examinations, showed a 100% match to the DNA of a domestic dog.
Frank Abbott, prosecuting, said it would have been an "incredible coincidence" that DNA was found on a "fairly inaccessible" part of Saunders, backing up what Ms Thacker told the court she had seen.
Mr Abbott told the court the case had caused "a considerable degree of distress" to Saunders' ex-wife and their daughters.
Mr Abbott told the court today that the effect of the incident on Ms Thacker and her twin daughters had been "quite substantial" and they wanted to move to make a "fresh start".
"The reaction within the local community has resulted in the children feeling 'on show'," he said.
"They have received at the very least jokes and at the very worst unpleasant comments, which has led the family to want to move away from the area."
The pre-sentence report prepared on Saunders noted: "The matter before the court is demonstrative of a high level of distorted sexualised thinking skills, risk-taking behaviours and levels of entitlement."
Sarah Jenkins, defending, said Saunders was a hard-working man who had not seen his twin daughters for 18 months.
"In all other respects Mr Saunders has led a really normal life," she said.
"It is fair to say this has been a matter which has been the subject of quite extensive reporting, particularly locally, and for that reason it has been difficult for members of the local community to take a considered view and form an opinion about the rights and wrongs of it."
Ms Thacker, 40, was not in court today but spoke out after her ex-husband was convicted.
"I'm happy for the kids, really, because they were a bit upset that people were doubting me," she said in June.
"They didn't like people calling me a liar. It's been the most stressful time of my life, not just the last week but the last year and a half.
"I don't really care what happens to him now. I got what I wanted, which was a guilty verdict."
Asked how she felt towards her ex-husband, she added: "I don't hate him, I feel sorry for him.
"At the end of the day he's the father of my kids and I'm not a hateful person."
Ms Thacker said she now just wanted to move on with her life.
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