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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Four jailed for animal torture film
Four people who subjected mice, a guinea pig and a kitten to "abject cruelty" as they tortured and then killed them for an obscene video have been jailed.

Ringleader Craig Chapman, 27, paid Christine Besford, 26, Sarah Cooke, 22, and Tharaza Smallwood, 22, between 100 and 700 each for taking part in the filming.


During the sick film Chapman can be heard giving instructions to the co-accused

Judge Granville Styler
He had told someone he met over the internet that he could supply videos depicting scenes of animal torture.

The video showed small animals being injured with high heels and what prosecutor Peter Cooper said was one scene "of an overtly sexual nature" involving a mouse taped to a wooden board.

The worst footage showed the killing of a kitten with its hind leg glued to a wooden board.

According to the RSPCA the animals all died from multiple internal injuries caused by the torture.

They suffered immense cruelty before they died, the charity's report concluded.

Guilty pleas

The defendants bought the mice and guinea pigs from a pet store and the kitten was bought from an advert in a local newspaper, Mr Cooper told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

The four all pleaded guilty on 7 May to conspiracy to publish obscene material and also admitted separate charges relating to the cruelty and torture of small animals.

Jailing the four on Tuesday, Judge Granville Styler said: "The case involves the torturing of small animals.

"Besford, Cooke and Smallwood crushed these animals to death but during the sick film Chapman can be heard giving instructions to the co-accused.

"I accept that Besford, Cooke and Smallwood were not the instigators of this but they subjected the animals to most abject cruelty.

"I take the view that these matters are so serious that I have no other choice but to jail you all."

Jail sentences

Chapman, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for conspiracy to publish the video.

He also received four months for cruelty to a guinea pig and cruelty to a kitten, to run concurrently.

Besford, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cooke, of Stoke-on-Trent, and Smallwood, also from Stoke, were each jailed for four months for conspiracy to publish obscene material and for cruelly terrifying animals, to run concurrently.

All four were banned from keeping animals for life.


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