Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 16:10 UK

Eight months' jail for cat killer

Anthony John Docherty
Docherty committed the offences in January this year

A man who pleaded guilty to torturing and killing cats in East Renfrewshire has been jailed for eight months.

Anthony John Docherty killed three of the cats. All were decapitated, two were scalped, and one had its tail pulled off.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard psychiatric reports that Docherty's behaviour could escalate towards humans.

Sheriff Neil Douglas also banned the 23-year-old from owning, keeping or taking charge of animals indefinitely.

Docherty, who is from Clarkston, East Renfrewshire, committed the offences in January.

He caused the animals unnecessary suffering by screaming at them, pinching them and taping their paws together.

It is clear that this could be the start of similar behaviour towards human beings
Jonathan Manson
Defence agent

He was charged under the Animal Health and Welfare Act of 2006.

After pleading guilty last month, Docherty was granted bail with special conditions which prevented him from having any contact with animals.

Appearing for sentencing on Monday, the court heard from Docherty's defence agent, Jonathan Manson.

Talking of his own grave concerns, he said: "It is clear that this could be the start of similar behaviour towards human beings.

"There have been reported cases in the past where this type of behaviour has led on to other kinds of criminality. There is a risk that this could escalate."

In addition to jailing Docherty, Sheriff Douglas also put a disqualification order in place under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act, to protect him from harming all animals.

The sheriff also put an anti-social behaviour order in place prohibiting him for inflicting pain, acting in a cruel manner or possessing, owning or keeping any animal, bird, fish or insect - or even acting in a manner that is grossly disrespectful to any dead creature.

'Unimaginable pain'

Mike Flynn, from the Scottish SPCA, said it was a disturbing case of repeated and prolonged animal cruelty.

"The accused inflicted an unimaginable amount of pain and suffering on the cats he tortured so today's sentence is appropriately severe," he said.

"In particular we welcome that he was given a life ban on keeping animals, which is the ultimate sanction against cruelty towards animals.

"We are pleased to note the court recognised this behaviour could lead to violence against humans.

"Our First Strike campaign highlights how animal cruelty can escalate into domestic abuse and violence towards people so it is very encouraging to see this being addressed."

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