Neighbour shot dog dead to stop its 'incessant barking'

Heartbroken owners saw their pet die after fatal assault with air rifle
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The Independent Online

A former TV executive has confessed to shooting dead his neighbour's dog after becoming annoyed at its early-morning barking.

Phil Bishop, who directed Top Of The Pops and Game For A Laugh during a decades-long career, shot Foggy, a Bedlington terrier, in the heart with a single shot from an air rifle.

The parish council chairman, 71, claimed at court that he did not intend to hit the dog when he fired from the study of his home in Brinton, Norfolk, using a .22 calibre weapon. Instead, he said, he had intended to strike a metal bench in his neighbour's garden, which would have made a noise that scared the dog back into its owner's house.

But the prosecution at King's Lynn magistrates court said that, on the contrary, Bishop deliberately aimed for the body of the eight-year-old pet.

The hunting pellet, which had a sharp tip, was later shown by X-ray to have penetrated the heart of the dog, which died barely minutes later in the arms of its sobbing owners, Sue Currah, 53, and her husband Simon, 56, as they tried to rush it to a vet.

Bishop was given a two-year conditional discharge after he admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dog. He was also ordered to pay £60 costs, plus £1,750 compensation to his traumatised neighbours, who said the incident has caused them so much anguish that they are thinking of moving home. The court heard that Bishop opened fire at 7.10am on 1 August 2008 after his neighbours had let the pet into their garden before taking it for a walk with their 16-year-old Bedington terrier Kookie. Bishop told the court that he was feeling fatigued after spending a sleepless night looking after his mentally ill daughter.

Police arrived at Bishop's home two days after the event. He admitted to shooting the dog with his legally-owned Webley Omega air rifle but claimed it was an accident.

Mr Currah, an international auditor and father of two children, said he heard his dog yelp and begin to limp before it keeled over and fell on to its side. He described his wife as "hysterical" as the couple drove to the vet.

Yvonne Neill, prosecuting, said: "The owners suspected the defendant as they knew he had an air rifle on his premises. They had lived next door to him for 15 years and they did not get on."

Mrs Currah said in a victim impact statement that she had been left devastated by Foggy's death. She added that she had lost weight and suffered from sleepless nights ever since.

"I keep playing it over and over in my mind like a tape," she said. "He didn't deserve to die in this cruel way. Home doesn't feel like home any more."