#TheList Wayne Francis McGrath, born December 1972, of Marsden Gardens Flats, Belfast BT15 5AN – bludgeoned his pet dog to death with a hammer and burnt his remains
McGrath said he killed the American bulldog-type dog, known as Patch, after the animal mauled an eight-year-old girl.
Police found no evidence of the Patch’s remains but a court heard his owner caused him “unimaginable pain”.
McGrath admitted charges of being the keeper of a dog involved in the attack on the child and causing him unnecessary suffering.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told Patch was not on a lead when he attacked the girl at Kinnaird Avenue, North Belfast.
The child was bitten and mauled, and witnesses described seeing the dog shake and trail the child by the hair.
McGrath and another man punched and kicked the dog in a bid to break his hold on the girl, the court heard.
She then fled, but the animal shook off a chain put round his neck and began chasing her.
“The dog caught up with the child and got on top of her, and was shaking her and mauling at her chest,” a prosecution lawyer told the court.
The two men then grabbed the dog and restrained him, while the girl was led to safety.
McGrath was questioned at the scene by police, who took both him and the dog back to his partner’s house.
The following day officers checked to see if he had handed over the animal to be humanely destroyed, but McGrath told them he had killed the dog himself.
The court heard he had received death threats and was under pressure to dispose of the dog, but did not have the money to take the animal to a vet to be euthanised.
No remains of the dog were found when police searched McGrath’s home, but during interviews he claimed to have killed the animal at a dump near Ligoniel.
“He admitted killing the dog by hitting it over the crown of the head with a hammer twice, and then putting its remains in a wheelie bin, covering it with copper wire and petrol, and setting the remains and the tools he used on fire,” a prosecution barrister said.
But no evidence of dog remains or the burnt bins were found during further searches of the dump area either.
The court heard McGrath’s admissions were the only evidence that the dog had died in the way described.
The prosecution said the animal had been subjected to unnecessary cruelty.
“A blow to the head with a hammer would cause a lot of damage, trauma and pain,” the lawyer argued.
“In the final moments of its life the animal would have experienced unimaginable pain and fear inflicted by its carer.
“There’s no way to ascertain if the first blow from the hammer would have rendered the dog insensible, and the owner ascertained a further blow was indeed required.”
A defence barrister said McGrath acted out of fear, having received a visit from people connected to an unnamed criminal organisation.
The judge said it was a “terrible case” in which a girl had sustained “lasting injury” and a dog was treated in an “appalling” manner.
“I have no doubt in my mind that unnecessary suffering was caused to that animal.”
Sentencing: four months in prison. Lifetime ban on keeping any animals. McGrath was released on bail, pending an appeal against his jail sentence.