Dog found dead with mouth taped shut in Darlington
A Darlington man has been told he faces jail after admitting causing the death of a dog by taping its mouth shut.
Paul Hinton, 34, of Pensburry Street, admitted five counts of animal cruelty at the town's magistrates court.
The body of the mongrel dog was found by RSPCA officers at a property Hinton was due to move into in April.
The animal, which Hinton claimed had bitten a relative, had its mouth forced shut with cable ties and adhesive tape. He is due to be sentenced next month.
The court heard that Hinton had taken the stray dog into his home, but that it had become aggressive.
He claimed he bound the dog's mouth shut to protect his family.
He added that he had suffered personal problems and forgot he had left the dog unattended with its mouth taped shut.
The court was told a post-mortem examination found the dog died of heart failure brought on by trauma and impaired breathing.
The animal had also suffered wounds to the head and spine attributed to kicking or beating.
RSPCA inspector Garry Palmer said: "What this dog went through is the stuff of nightmares, thinking about that has caused many a sleepless night for me since.
"The premeditated nature of what happened here makes it one of the most shocking cases I've ever dealt with.
"This dog had his mouth forced shut with cable ties and tape, most likely so he couldn't defend himself or alert anyone to his plight by making a noise. It was horrific."
Mr Hinton is due to be sentenced at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court on 7 October.