Student banned from keeping animals after frying a hamster
A student has been banned from keeping animals for eight years after a court heard how he FRIED a hamster in a pan in a “drunken moment of madness”.
Politics and International Relations student James White, 21, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a female Syrian hamster, which died of heart failure.
He changed his plea on the day his trial was due to start at Selby Magistrates Court today/yesterday (THU), where it was heard that cops investigating complaints at the block of flats had smelled a “pungent” aroma coming from White’s home. District Judge Roy Anderson ordered White to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and pay 1,000 pounds in costs, pointing out the student had been “drunk to the point of madness” on February 4, 2012.
White, who was prosecuted by the RSPCA, was charged with “causing unnecessary suffering to an adult female Syrian hamster by subjecting her to hyperthermia” but District Judge Anderson sentenced him on the basis the rodent, which
belonged to White’s flatmate, had died just before he fried it.
The court heard that police had been called to the block of flats in York where York University student White lived as a result of complaints by other residents. When they arrived, they found White drunk.
Phil Brown, prosecuting, said: “The PC entered the defendant’s flat.
“There was a significant and pungent smell coming from the flat. He entered the kitchen and found the hob on full, and a frying pan next to the hob with the hamster in it.
“The defendant made comments at the time saying he didn’t remember what had happened.
“When told, he made comments such as ‘What, I f***ing fried it? I fried it?”
White was arrested under section 136 of the Mental Health Act for his own safety, and one officer at the police station said he had never seen such “bizarre behaviour” before.
When asked his name, he replied “1,2,3,4” and was uncooperative, Mr Brown said.
Eventually interviewed, White said he had “absolutely no recollection of the facts”.
Mr Brown also told how the cost of the case, including legal costs and expert investigations, had reached 3,356.20 pounds.
Kevin Blount, for White, argued that his client’s acts did not fall within any of the sentencing guidelines as it was “one impulsive act” and the fact that the hamster died was an “aggravating feature”.
To which the judge replied: “I do not think whoever drafted these guidelines had this sort of case in mind.”
Mr Blount told how White was still living with his flatmate and offered a letter from his friend to the court.
He argued that his client had not killed the hamster by frying it, and pointed out that a forensic veterinary pathologist believed that the hamster had died “minutes before” it was put in the frying pan.
He said: “It’s a drunken foolishness which has had tragic consequences for a hamster.”
The judge added: “He was so drunk that he was on the point of madness.”
Sentencing, District Judge Anderson told White: “I have no doubt in the normal course of your life you are a decent hardworking young man doing your best to get a good degree and make a career for yourself.
“Quite what happened on that night is still shrouded in a degree of mystery but plainly you had consumed far too much alcohol than was good for you.
“You have now, by virtue of your treatment of this small unfortunate rodent, destroyed your good character and acquired a criminal conviction.
“It’s accepted now that there was rough handling of that animal by you but that it can’t be established that it was putting it in the frying pan and applying heat that caused its death.
“Had that sadistic conduct been established I would be dealing with you in a far more serious way than I am.”
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said that she had never come across a case of this kind before, adding: “I’ve heard of animals being put into microwaves but never come across this before.
“Although it was a police officer who found the hamster I have to say it was quite upsetting to hear about this cruelty.
“Mr White claims that he was intoxicated and cannot remember anything about the night.
“It’s a very unusual case and I don’t know any other people who would think of doing that when drunk. It seems a very extreme act. It’s quite shocking really.
“I think the judge dealt with this in the correct way. He was very fair. I’m pleased with the outcome.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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