Man battered his dog to death

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A ST Helens man viciously beat his pet dog to death before wrapping its corpse in tape, a bin bag and a bed sheet and burying it in a field.

Nathan Smith admitted inflicting unnecessary suffering on his four-year-old black and white Staffordshire bull terrier, Winston – which ultimately led to the dog’s death – on the day he was due to stand trial.

A District Judge said it was “difficult to think of many worse cases of cruelty to a dog than this”.

St Helens Magistrates’ Court heard how Smith, 27, repeatedly inflicted severe blunt force trauma wounds on the muscular 17kg terrier between August 26 and September 23 last year.

After the RSPCA had exhumed the dog’s body from a makeshift grave on the Pilks recreation field, Winston was found to have suffered 11 rib fractures – including some which were weeks old.

A post mortem also revealed that the dog had suffered haemorrhaging in the muscle of his chest wall and in his left eye and a blood clot in his liver.

The beatings dished out were so brutal that Winston had also contracted meningitis, which led to his death.

Initially, Smith claimed he had drowned the dog to put him out of his misery after Winston had fallen down the stairs into a bucket of bleach.

But his web of lies was exposed by his ex-partner Demi Partington.

Peter Mitchell, prosecuting, told how Ms Partington had found the dog wrapped in a “peculiar” way in a bin bag, a white bed sheet and yellow electrical tape when she went into the living room of Smith’s City Road home.

She was sceptical about Smith’s story from the outset, especially as she found spatterings of blood around the house.

After Smith took her to bury Winston’s body, she contacted the RSPCA and pointed investigators to the exact spot where he had been buried.

RSPCA inspector Claire Fisher described it as a “disturbing case” and told how Smith had repeatedly lied during the course of a draining four-hour interview.

She said: “In 10 years of service this is the first court case I’ve ever dealt with in which we’ve had to dig up a dog’s body.

“Smith lied throughout. He even rang the RSPCA at the time to report Winston missing.”

Stephanie Varle, defending, accepted that the custody threshold had been passed but said her client was of previous good character and may benefit more from a probation service intervention than an immediate custodial sentence.

She argued that Winston had previously been “much-loved” and claimed Smith had not used any objects to chastise the dog.

District Judge Aled Jones, who adjourned the sentencing until July 8 for reports, warned Smith he could face jail.

He said: “It’s clear to me that this dog suffered repeated beatings over a considerable period of time. All the sentencing options, including custody, remain open.”