Man jailed for stabbing wife's cat


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A drunken man who stabbed his wife's cat to death out of spite during a row has been jailed.

Alcoholic Andrew Beese, 60, used a knife to kill five-year-old Koko before throwing the cat's body over his garden fence.

Beese, whose wife was in court to support him, was jailed for 14 weeks by JPs at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court after admitting a charge of causing unnecessary suffering.

The defendant, of Bisley Old Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire, showed no emotion as he was led away to begin his sentence.

His wife, Helen, was not in the courtroom to see her husband jailed as she had been asked to leave by the chairman of the bench, Peter Langman, after repeatedly interrupting as he passed sentence.

Mr Langman told the bearded defendant: "Mr Beese, we have taken some time to consider our sentence - as was pointed out at the start of this hearing it is not something we deal with on a regular basis.

"We rely on the report that has been prepared about you and we have also listened to the reports and details of the incident.

"We have also listened to the mitigation that has been put forward on your behalf."

Mr Langman said the guidelines stated that the starting point for this type of offence was a prison sentence of 18 weeks.

"We then have to consider whether the particular set of circumstances aggravate or mitigate against it," he said.

"Following the guidelines we can find very little that mitigates that sentence. There has been use of a weapon.

"It was a persistent incident and clearly resulted in the death of an animal which was protected under the Animal Welfare Act.

"You have pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and we are prepared to reduce that sentence and we are therefore imposing 14 weeks immediate custody.

"We have seen from your record that you have a history of violence towards people, indicated by a caution for battery in 2009.

"We are concerned as to the risk you pose to others. The report notes this as an escalation in the seriousness of your behaviour.

"We see no reason to suspend the sentence because we feel you have not engaged with the Probation Service or taken responsibility for your actions."

Beese was also banned from keeping animals for 20 years.

Nick Sutton, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the fatal attack had been launched on December 29 of last year when the cat, a pixie-bob breed, was nursing four kittens.

Neighbours of the couple said they could see Beese through the kitchen window apparently in a temper.

"The defendant lives with his wife and their relationship can be described as stormy," he said.

"But on this particular day there appears to have been a domestic dispute between the two of them.

"The position is that he simply killed this animal as a matter of spite. It is as simple as that."

Mr Sutton said neighbours who witnessed the incident heard a row between Beese and his wife and the sound of a front door slamming.

"The neighbour could see he was waving his arms up and down and possibly kicking something but she could not see what he was kicking.

"She could see he was in a temper."

Mr Sutton said that the neighbour saw the cat jump out in front of the kitchen window, and Beese make stabbing motions towards it.

"He was clearly holding something as he stabbed the cat," the prosecutor said.

The court heard how the neighbour described seeing the cat get away from Beese but he cornered it and picked it up again.

When police arrived at Beese's house, he told officers: "Look what it did. It scratched me, so I killed it."

Mr Sutton said: "In the first interview the defendant maintained that the animal attacked him and he claimed that he feared for his life and he simply strangled it.

"It is not accepted that this cat attacked the defendant. There is no evidence at all of strangulation.

"This is something the defendant knew about. This is not something he had done drunkenly or without knowledge."

Beese then threw the body of the cat over the fence at the bottom of his garden before doing something neighbours described him as "seldom doing" - attempting to clean up the kitchen.

A post mortem examination found that the cat had suffered a wound to the abdomen, which had severed its aorta.

Mr Sutton said the costs to the RSPCA of bringing the prosecution amounted to £2,274.42.

Steve Woodward, defending, said his client had a long history of alcohol dependency and was currently undergoing specialist treatment.

"He pleaded guilty to this offence on the first opportunity, fully accepting the evidence of what the neighbours saw and the comments of the vet regarding the cause of death," he said.

"He said he heard one of the kittens make a noise and he went to pick it up. He maintains that the mother may have been protective and scratched him.

"It may well explain but it does not justify what happened thereafter."

Interrupting court proceedings, Beese's wife said: "This shouldn't be happening. This shouldn't be happening."

As she was escorted from the courtroom, Mrs Beese, who is in her late 30s, told a security guard: "He's a sick man. He is bipolar. I've been trying to get him help for years.

"I didn't want this. I never wanted to press charges. This is a huge fail on the side of the NHS.

"I'm his wife. I do not feel he should be in court. I feel he should be under the mental health.

"My husband is a sick man. It was his illness that made him do what he did and I will say that until the day I die."

Magistrates did not order Beese to pay any of the RSPCA's costs.

Speaking afterwards, RSPCA Inspector Philip Mann described the case as one of the worst he had ever come across.

"He does not deserve the right to have animals in his home," he said.

"Prison sentences are rare in animal cases but in this case it is an appropriate sentence.

"I certainly put it in the top 10 of worst cases I have dealt with in my career of 21 years."