Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 15:15 UK

Neighbour jailed for drowning cat

Generic canal pic
The animal was found dead in the Union Canal near Grangemouth

A man who put his neighbour's cat into plastic bags and drowned it has been jailed for four months.

Peter Johnstone, 57, from Grangemouth threw the animal into the Union Canal after weighing it down with bricks.

He had claimed his wife suffered from a "pronounced phobia" of cats and said the animal routinely entered his house despite attempts to keep it away.

Falkirk Sheriff Neil Mackinnon also banned Johnstone from keeping animals for 25 years.

The court was told that Johnstone feared the animal would infect his 51-year-old wife who had recently spent time in hospital following an operation.

The animal, which was owned by Johnstone's nephew who lived next door, was often seen in his house.

Does the manner of this conduct not suggest some deliberate care was taken using masking tape and taking it away to the canal
Sheriff Neil Mackinnon

Johnstone admitted that sometime between 23 June and 6 July, he stuffed the cat into three plastic carrier bags and sealed them with masking tape.

He then went to the nearby canal and weighed the bag down with bricks.

Fiscal depute Zaid Hassan said that when Johnstone's nephew purchased the cat earlier in the year, it had caused friction between the two.

He said: "The accused had taken steps to prevent the cat entering his property including placing security spikes on his garden fence that separated his garden and that of the complainer.

"On July 6 this year a dog walker passing the Union Canal saw a black bag floating in the water. When he walked past the next day at 12.50pm and saw the bag again - but by then it had inflated.

"He was concerned and called the police."

'Repeatedly warned'

Officers found the dead animal inside and discovered it belonged to the complainer.

When interviewed by police, Johnstone admitted drowning the animal.

John Mulholland, defending, said his client had never been in trouble before and had not intended to drown the animal until he reached the canal.

Sheriff Mackinnon asked: "Does the manner of this conduct not suggest some deliberate care was taken using masking tape and taking it away to the canal?

"It can only have been designed to cause the death of the animal."

Mr Mulholland replied: "There's no suggestion he went out with the intention of drowning the cat until he got to the canal."

Jailing Johnstone, Sheriff Mackinnon said: "As I understand it your wife had a phobia of cats and you had repeatedly warned your nephew to keep it away.

"But you weighted it down and threw it in a canal.

"This was not a case of an impoverished farmer neglecting his livestock.

"You killed the animal."

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