Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Drunken soldier ironed hamster
Cruelty against animals has "no place" in army - judge
A soldier who tortured a colleague's pet hamster and then roasted it to death in a microwave has been jailed.
Lance Corporal Nigel Horsley had drunk 20 pints of beer before he attacked the animal, called Simba.
A court martial at Bulford, Wiltshire, heard how the 23-year-old soldier burst into a colleague's room at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, picked up the pet hamster and put a hot iron on its head for three seconds.
Captain Nicholas Simpson, prosecuting, said: "When he removed the iron Simba was seen to have a brown burn mark down the back of her head, but the animal was alive at this stage."
Capt Simpson told the hearing Horsley then said: "I'm going to microwave this thing," and set off for the room with the oven.
Despite attempts to placate him with a can of beer and attempts by other soldiers to restrain him, Horsley placed the hamster in the oven and switched it on.
"He was heard to say 'I put it in for 30 seconds to warm up'," said Capt Simpson.
The lance corporal, who belongs to the 29th Regiment, Royal Logistic Corp, admitted disgraceful conduct at a court martial.
He was also charged with going absent without leave for two months last summer.
'Cruel and disgraceful'
He was demoted and jailed for 140 days for both offences.
Paul Grumbar, a barrister representing Horsley, said his client had been suffering from a drink problem at the time of the incident.
Judge Advocate General Jack Bayliss, who sat on the panel with three senior army officers, told Horsley as he passed sentence: "This conduct strikes at the very heart of discipline and sets the worst example possible.
"What you did to that animal was cruel and disgraceful. It was deliberate.
"Cruelty, whether to people or animals, has no place in the military ethos and any evidence of it will treated severely."