Man spared jail over sex with dog

 

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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower