A BURGLAR has been jailed for five years after he and his gang broke into a family home and attacked the pet dog fatally breaking its spine.
Timothy Liddell sneaked into the house in Larpool Close, Hartlepool, in the middle of the night, where a family – including their seven-year-old daughter – were sleeping.
The 38-year-old and his criminal gang were confronted by the household’s pet dog, which they attacked, leaving it with the severe injury to its spine.
The animal’s barking eventually roused the owner of the house who went downstairs to investigate, before discovering he had been burgled.
The burglars took more than £1,000 worth of goods, including two sets of car keys, a purse containing £50 cash, two drills, a jigsaw, a Nike bag containing jewellery, aftershave and personal papers.
But in the hours after the burglary, the condition of the much-loved dog deteriorated and a trip to the vet uncovered that the animal had a broken spine and had to be put down.
Prosecuting, Michael Bosomworth said: “The defendant or one of his associates kicked or stamped on the dog.
“The householder noticed that the dog was limping.
“The dog was taken to the vet and it was discovered that its spine had been broken and there was no option but to put the dog down.
“The effect of this burglary has also left the daughter with difficulty sleeping at night.”
Liddell, who claimed that he was not responsible for attacking the dog, appeared at Teesside Crown Court, in Middlesbrough, and pleaded guilty to one count of burglary which took place on November 23 last year.
Mitigating, Jim Withyman said his client had acted as the “look-out” in the burglary and had allowed the property to be taken back to his house where it was found the next day by police.
He said: “Since being drug free he has been battling with a mental health problem.
“The defendant wants to apologise to the homeowners for what has happened. He has a pet dog of his own and he’s horrified at what happened to tyhe animal. He is shocked by that.”
Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Liddell, from Hopps Street, Hartlepool, to five years imprisonment, less 86 days he has spent on a curfew.
The judge said: “This was a family in their home and they expected to be safe. Some people would have been put off carrying out the burglary because of the dog barking but you and the people you were with were not.
“Instead the dog was attacked and such injury was caused which led to the family being forced to destroy it. This caused a great deal of distress.
“The daughter is seven years old and is now having trouble sleeping and her parents have not been happy in their home since.”