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Man jailed after microwaving 'favourite' hamster

Pa,Tom Wilkinson
Wednesday 22 September 2010 11:43 BST

An unemployed construction worker who microwaved his favourite hamster to death was jailed for nine weeks today.

Anthony Parker, 29, of Holyrood Way, Hartlepool, Teesside, was banned from keeping animals for five years by magistrates in the town.

When police came to his home in the early hours of February 23, he admitted putting his pet in the cooker after a drunken row with his girlfriend.

The court heard he told officers: "I didn't mean to kill her. She was the best hamster I ever had. She was called Suzie."

Parker shook his head as he was led away from the dock at Hartlepool Magistrates' Court in handcuffs.

Chairman of the bench Barbara Sutherland told him the starting point had been 12 weeks but that was reduced to nine because of his guilty plea.

"You will serve half in prison and the rest on licence," she told him.

Parker admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a Syrian hamster by microwaving it, resulting in its death.

Neil Taylor, prosecuting, said the animal had been killed in a cruel way.

Parker had been drinking all day and when his girlfriend came home, they rowed.

The defendant told police he had not meant to kill Suzie, but admitted putting her in the cooker.

He said he wanted his lover to see the pet.

He later said he had no recollection of events.

Officers found Suzie in a green wheely bin outside.

"It was clear the hamster died in agony," Mr Taylor said.

The animal's lips were burned and its eyes were opaque.

A post-mortem examination showed Suzie had been exposed to microwave radiation.

Mr Taylor said the hamster would have tried to get away from the source of the radiation which was heating her internal cells, but of course she could not.

"Death finally occurs when the brain is over-heated or the heart muscles stop functioning," he said.

Parker initially denied the offence on legal advice because his confession to police was made when he was very drunk, the court heard.

He changed his plea by letter before today's hearing.

Adrian Morris, defending, said his client had previous convictions for drink-driving and a public order offence which happened six years ago.

There was nothing on his record linked to cruelty, Mr Morris said.

"He effectively comes before this court a man of good character."

He said Suzie's death would have been rapid and the "cruelty and suffering were not prolonged".

Mr Taylor responded: "This is a man so drunk he puts a hamster into a microwave and kills it."

Inspector Lucy Hoehne, who investigated the case for the RSPCA, said Parker was "bemused" during her interview.

"I don't think he ever thought it would come to this," she said outside court.

"It was an intentional act of cruelty and there was no mitigation other than the fact he was drunk, but people get drunk every day and don't do things like that.

"It will have been horrific for that poor little hamster.

"It shouldn't be made light of just because it's a hamster.

"Its suffering is no different from a cat, a dog or a horse.

"I think justice has been served."

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