Northern Ireland

Cody the dog: Man jailed for setting pet on fire

Burned dog Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Cody had to be put down after being set alight in August 2012

A County Antrim man who set fire to a dog has been jailed for 10 months.

Cody, a three-year-old collie, had to be put down after being doused in accelerant and set alight in 2012.

Andrew Richard Stewart, 23, from Wellington Parks, Maghaberry, will also spend 10 months on licence. He had admitted animal cruelty.

Jamie Downey, 23, of Meadowfield Court, Aghalee, was given a six-month term, half of which will be spent in prison, for perverting the course of justice.

'Beyond comprehension'

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Media captionCody's owner, Natalie Agnew said the family were delighted at the verdict

The attack happened in August 2012 in a quarry near the village of Maghaberry.

The jail terms are the first custodial sentences to be imposed in Northern Ireland under animal cruelty legislation that came into effect in 2011.

The judge told Stewart the attack was both "evil and vile", and "beyond comprehension".

Stewart was also banned from owning or keeping any animal for 30 years.

He was ordered to pay Cody's owners compensation of £2,600.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Andrew Stewart, pictured leaving court at an earlier hearing

Jailing Downey, he said he had provided his friend with a "concocted alibi" through a sense of "misguided loyalty".

The judge rejected claims that Stewart was sorry for what he had done.

"In this case there has been no remorse," he said.

"In my view, the recent expressions of regret are merely evidence of self-pity.

"The [guilty] plea was very late, and the change of mind only followed when Downey had indicated to his counsel that he was now prepared to tell the truth."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Animal rights campaigners gathered at the court as the verdict was delivered

Cody's owners Natalie and Martin Agnew welcomed the jail sentences.

"The kids are still having trouble sleeping at night and dealing with the issues," said Mrs Agnew.

"We are happy with the sentencing, but we still have to live with this for the rest of our lives."

Ch Insp Jonathan Wilson said: "Animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and this case proves that when we find someone has subjected an animal to cruelty we will work with our partner agencies to help ensure the culprit faces the consequences of their actions."

Marianne O'Kane of the Public Prosecution Service said they hoped the jail sentences would "act as a powerful deterrent".

"We can assure the public that we will continue to effectively prosecute animal abuse cases, where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest," she said.

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