#TheList Alexander Andrew McGhee, born 27/02/74, of 590 Wellesley Road, Methil, Fife KY8 3PF – battered his rescue dog to death in a drunken rage
The dog, named Murphy, suffered numerous injuries on his sides, lower back, abdomen and neck, as well as the brain bleed which caused him to die.
His owner Alexander “Eck” McGhee, a train driver with ScotRail based at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, had denied killing the lurcher, but was found guilty following a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Neighbours giving evidence described hearing a drunken McGhee return home in the early hours of the morning of 8 July 2017 followed by “yelping” and “scrabbling” noises coming from his flat.
They claimed to have heard an aggressive male voice shouting “bastard” and what sounded like “a dog being thrown against a wall”.
The couple said they were forced to leave the property because their own dog was so distressed by the horrific sounds coming from next door. They called police who attended some hours later.
During initial interview McGhee told police officers that Murray had bolted from the flat after he accidentally left the front door open.
McGhee said he had gone out to look for Murray and found him dead at the side of a nearby road. He said that the dog must have been hit by a vehicle. McGhee then led officers to the lurcher’s body which he had put in the boot of his car.
When asked by officers about injuries to his hand, which he appeared to be trying to hide with the sleeve of his jumper, McGhee claimed that he had punched the wall in temper after Murray escaped.
Veterinary evidence presented in court contradicted McGhee’s claims that Murray had been run over.
Veterinary pathologist Dr Bryn Tennant said he believed Murphy had sustained the injuries from being “hit, kicked or shaken with considerable force”.
Dr Tennant went on: “The outcome of the post-mortem examination was that this dog had been subjected to multiple traumatic incidents.
“The constellation of injuries, in my opinion, were not consistent with a road traffic accident.
“There is a very, very remote possibility that this dog was struck by a vehicle but from what I saw, I do not believe that happened on the basis on my examination.”
“The bleeding around the brain is the same as boxers get when they haemorrhage.”
Dr Tennant said that he would have expected to see damage to the skin and paws or crush injuries if the animal had been struck by a vehicle.
Giving evidence in his defence McGhee wept as he described how he had adopted Murray as a puppy in 2013 and he was “emaciated and full of worms and fleas”.
He described the dog, who was named after the tennis star Andy Murray, as “the biggest sook”, saying he would “go to anyone”.
Asked about the moment when he said he found Murray’s body, McGhee said: “He was just lying there. Just cold. Heavy.
“He had a tiny bit of blood coming out of his mouth. That was it.
There were four or five guys on their way to work at BiFab who asked me if it was my dog and offered to help me put him in the back of the car.”
McGhee’s lawyer, Scott McKenzie, asked him: “The neighbours describe hearing a fairly distressing incident going on within your property with the dogs. Did you engage in any distressing conduct towards your dogs?”
He said: “I’m not going to rescue dogs to hurt them.”
Mr McKenzie asked: “Did you lose your temper with the dog and cause him so much pain that he was in agony for minutes or possibly hours before he died?”
Fiscal depute Ronnie Hay told McGhee he was lying and said he had actually come home from a night out in a drunken state.
Mr Hay said: “Is it not the case that you came home drunk, acting aggressively and you took it out on the dogs and one of the dogs paid the ultimate price?”
He continued: “The couple next door left their flat because of the noise emanating from his property.
“When they returned they spoke of a bottle of bleach being outside the premises that wasn’t there when they left.
“They were adamant the noises were not a dog fight.
“They spoke of a male voice talking aggressively using language such as ‘bastard’.
“One heard slapping sounds and one said it sounded like the dog was being thrown against a wall.”
McGhee dismissed these allegations as lies, however, believing the neighbours giving evidence against him had a grudge against his police officer partner.
Having considered all of the evidence, Sheriff Alistair Thornton said he was satisfied that McGhee had caused Murphy’s death by inflicting blunt force trauma and found him guilty.
Sentencing McGhee Sheriff Thornton told him: “The veterinary evidence provided in that case indicated the degree of blunt force trauma suffered by the dog was substantial.”
“The social work report I have read indicates you maintain your denial of the offence and accordingly there is no remorse expressed by you.”
However, he said that he had to consider the impact of a jail sentence on McGhee’s family and children and the fact that he was a working man with a productive life. Taking all of this into account he handed him a community payback order and a 20-year ban on owning or having sole custody of a dog.
McGhee and his partner have another rescue dog, Dora, who has been cared for by a relative when his partner is absent since the offence on July 8, 2017.
McGhee’s solicitor said a rescue charity [source article states the Scottish Greyhound Trust but this isn’t correct] had monitored Dora and there were no concerns about either her or a guinea pig the couple have.
McGhee was placed on a community payback order and told to perform 240 hours of unpaid work. He was also banned from owning or having sole custody of any dog for 20 years.
Change.org petition to Alexander McGhee’s employer Abellio ScotRail asking them to make a stand against animal cruelty and dismiss him: https://bit.ly/2BUmtbr