Hammer dog killer spared jail
A FATHER who killed the family's pet dog with a hammer blow to the head was told he would have faced 18 weeks in prison had it not mauled his little girl.
District Judge Morgan Jones told Gary Wills (pictured) jail was appropriate for killing his Jack Russell terrier with a hammer in an 'utterly inhumane and inappropriate manner'.
The 47-year-old father of four from Pathfields, Totnes, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order and banned from owning dogs for life.
DJ Jones said the attack on the dog had not been a momentary or impulsive response and the dog had likely suffered in the process.
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Despite hearing how the dog had disfigured Wills' nine-year-old daughter the night before, for which she required hospital treatment and stitches and was left with permanent scarring, DJ Jones said Wills' actions were more akin to revenge and were not acceptable.
DJ Jones said: "I have taken into consideration that you are a man of good character and that you acted as a direct result of what happened to your daughter but you acted entirely wrongly.
"Your action was cruel and entirely inappropriate. The dog did suffer for a limited time.
"You have also suffered with your family from the fall out and the after affect. It was a serious offence but a community penalty is justified."
At a previous hearing, Torbay magistrates heard how Wills returned from the hospital and killed the dog with a hammer after it attacked his daughter.
Wills took the dog out in the garden, apologised to it, and hit it with a hammer.
John Wyatt, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the case came about when Wills' daughter mentioned what happened to a friend in school, whose parents alerted the charity.
Nigel Butt, mitigating, said the event last year had been an 'awful night for Mr Wills'.
He said: "He accepts that his behaviour was unacceptable but he was overwhelmed with concern over what could happen again and took the gruesome action that he did.
"It was a deliberate act but the mitigation is overwhelming. These were awful circumstances."
As well as the life ban on owning dogs and the community work, Wills was ordered to pay £150 in cost.
After the court hearing, RSPCA inspector Beccy Wadey said she did understand the circumstances of the case but had a problem with the fact a small child was allowed to play on her own with a Jack Russell.
"I wish Mr Wills had locked the dog in the shed and telephoned either us or a vet and asked for the dog to be either taken away or put down," she said.