Sergeant banned over police dog deaths

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The Independent Online

Former police dog handler Ian Craven was banned from owning or keeping dogs for three years today after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to two dogs which died in his car during hot weather in June.

The 50-year-old from Staines was told by District Judge Daphne Wickham at Westminster Magistrates' Court: "I accept it has brought your illustrious career as a sergeant to an end, it may have damaged your wife's career and your reputation with all those around you, and that in itself is a punishment."

He was also ordered to pay £3,240 costs.

The charges related to an incident on June 26 in which a German Shepherd puppy and a Malinois type dog died in a vehicle outside the Metropolitan Police dog training centre in Layhams Road, Keston, Kent.

The judge was told that Craven had been involved in a similar event in July 2004 when a young spaniel died in a vehicle.

Prosecutor Andrew Wiles said Craven underwent an internal investigation and pleaded guilty to offences detailed in the code of conduct for police officers and was reprimanded.

"In that incident there was another dog, a young spaniel, which he again left in the rear of his vehicle," said Mr Wiles.

It was also at the dog training centre and was found to have died of heat exhaustion, he added.

In the case before the court, both dogs were owned by the Metropolitan Police, and were potentially breeding dogs rather than working dogs, Mr Wiles said.

Craven was a sergeant employed by the Met, based at the dog training establishment in Keston.

At about 7am on a Sunday he arrived there in his own private vehicle, with the dogs in the back in a plastic cage.

He parked in front of the main building, in an area with no shade - he would normally have parked in the kennel compound.

"The dogs were left in the vehicle, the windows were closed, there was no ventilation, no water left for the dogs, and the vehicle was locked."

At 7.45am he departed with another officer in a police vehicle to the Olympic Village in Stratford, east London, where they were to undertake tests of dogs working for a private security firm.

At 11.30am his colleague advised another handler that he place his dog in the shade, and Craven started swearing and running up the road, using his mobile phone.

"He was pursued by his colleague, who said he appeared to be in a panic, he was pacing up and down, and heard to say 'I've killed my dogs'."

He then told his colleague that he had left his dogs confined in the vehicle all morning.

The two police officers got back into the vehicle and headed back towards Keston, while Craven contacted a colleague who lived nearby.

While the vehicle was travelling at a slow speed, Craven jumped out to run away, Mr Wiles said.

"It seems he was subsequently taken into hospital, and sectioned under the Mental Health Act," Mr Wiles said.

Kennel staff broke into the car but the dogs both later died despite hours of efforts to save them. One of them was put down as it was about to die.

Mr Wiles said temperatures that day went from 16.1C (61F) at 7am to 22.2C (72F) by 11am, and those were in the shade.

Craven gave a statement in which he said he forgot that the dogs were in the vehicle, Mr Wiles said.

He had resigned from the Met and was no longer a serving officer.