#TheList Robert Arthur Oram, born 31/07/1986, previously of Reigate Walk, Corby NN18 9JP but as of 2020 living at Birch Way, Stranraer, Scotland DG9 7TJ, and his now ex partner Emma Barker, born 03/11/1988, of Wick Close, Corby NN18 8DF – drowned a dog in the bath and buried his body in the woods
Violent criminal Oram held five-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Tyson under the water until he died at the flat he shared with pregnant girlfriend Emma Barker and her seven-year-old son.
Bizarrely, he then wrapped Tyson’s body in a sheet and polythene bags and left it at the base of his stairs so his stepson could say goodbye when he got home from school.
Later he gave Tyson a funeral in the woods nearby, to show him ‘some dignity’.
Kevin McCole, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the couple decided to drown the dog because they were both on benefits and believed they could not afford to have him put down. The dog was also, according to Oram, a “useless” guard dog having failed to protect him during a burglary.
Mr McCole said a postmortem on Tyson showed bruising as a result of the “force applied to the back of the skull” as he was held under.
He said: “It is reasonable that the dog would have sought to fight when put under the water and been caused to suffer in the moments prior to losing its life.”
Oram claimed he only held Tyson under water for two minutes and that the dog did not struggle.
Mr McCole told the court: “He said, ‘I wasn’t sure he was dead so I unplugged the bath, went into the living room and had a little cry’.”
Oram initially denied drowning the dog when an RSPCA inspector visited his home in February 2012.
He claimed he had given the dog, whom he had owned for nine months, to a friend but later that day admitted drowning him. He had dumped the pet in Kingswood, in Northampton.
The court heard Oram has previous convictions for violence.
John Whiston, mitigating, told the court that Tyson’s behaviour had changed after he was “clipped by a motor vehicle”. He continued: ‘A burglary took place at the house and the dog went out and instead of assisting Mr Oram in pursuing the burglars he in fact bit Mr Oram.
‘In Mr Oram’s view the dog no longer did what it was trained to do, to protect his master and property, so he says he and his partner decided to drown it.
‘It did not occur to him that were other agencies that could have assisted without cost.’
He also added that since news of Oram’s trial had spread he had received death threats towards his baby daughter over Facebook.
The court heard Oram, who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Tyson, “regretted” his actions.
Sentencing Oram to 18 weeks in prison, Chairman of the Magistrates Mr Russell Watson said that Tyson had suffered in the minutes before his death.
He said: ‘The aggravating features we have heard are that the animal suffered considerably as well as the involvement of children.
‘This was an intentional act and we must also take into account your numerous previous convictions.
‘Our starting point is 26 weeks but you did make an early guilty plea so you are entitled to have that lowered to 18 weeks of immediate custody.’
Outside court, RSPCA inspector Clint Davies criticised the sentence, adding there needed to be “a stronger message that people can’t treat animals like that”.
Speaking after the case, Mr Davies said: “I would like to have seen a longer sentence and a lifetime ban on keeping animals.”
Emma Barker denied failing to prevent unnecessary suffering to an animal and was due to face a separate trial. Unfortunately, the outcome was not reported in the press.
Sentencing (Oram): 18 weeks in jail. 10-year ban (expires June 2022).