Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Dogs death Nottinghamshire Pc guilty of cruelty

Pc Mark Johnson
The dogs were found in the back of Pc Johnson's car

A police dog handler whose two animals died from heatstroke in his car has been found guilty of animal cruelty.

Pc Mark Johnson, 39, left the German Shepherds in temperatures of 29.3C (84.7F) in June last year when parked at Nottinghamshire Police headquarters.

He told Nottingham magistrates he had been suffering from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder when he forgot to check them for seven hours.

He was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,500.

After the case, Nottinghamshire Police said there would be internal disciplinary proceedings to consider his future.

District Judge Tim Devas described the incident as "a dreadful error of judgement" and said it had been brought about by an illness that should have been diagnosed and treated properly.

RSPCA picture of the dead dogs
The dogs died in the car last June

The RSPCA, which had prosecuted the case, welcomed the verdict and said that those responsible for animals must be held to account for their actions, no matter what their profession.

Simon Parker, from the RSPCA, said: "Two dogs died unnecessarily, a horrific death, and a conviction was wholeheartedly the right decision today, and I'm thankful for the judge for that.

"Everyone needs to remember how hot cars can get during warm weather. Cases like this - particularly when it's a professional person - should not happen."

The organisation said it accepted that Johnson's care of dogs had previously been exemplary and he had not acted callously.

Heatstroke

He was not banned from looking after animals in the future.

The court heard that dogs Jet, aged seven, and 18-month-old Jay-Jay, died possibly within 20 minutes from heatstroke which would have brought about multiple organ failure.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies: "Internal disciplinary processes will now take place"

Johnson, who has served with the force for nearly 18 years, told the court that his medical condition, along with the stresses of the job, had left him seriously ill.

The court was told on 30 June last year, Johnson drove his black Ford Mondeo estate to Nottinghamshire Police's HQ in Arnold, just north of Nottingham.

He arrived just before 0700 BST and had planned to transfer the dogs to a police car but it was off the road as the air conditioning system was being fixed.

He found another car but there were no mats in the back and when he went to find some he became distracted by a police briefing.

Afterwards, he told his sergeant he wanted to discuss some medical issues with him later in the day but he needed time to do his paperwork.

At about 1030 BST he planned to let his dogs out of the car, give them water and allow them to stretch their legs. But he became distracted again by a phone call about a missing person.

At noon, he had a meeting with his sergeant about his problems and it was not until nearly 1430 BST that he finally went to check on his dogs, seven hours later.



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