A father from Corby who drowned his dog after it failed to bite a burglar has been sent to jail.
Robert Oram, of Reigate Walk, drowned Tyson in the bath, wrapped him in polythene then waited for his seven-year-old stepson to return home from school so he could say goodbye to it.
They then headed to Kings Wood, off Colyers Avenue, and buried to dog in a shallow grave.
Today, magistrates in Corby jailed Oram, 25, for 18 weeks and banned him from keeping all animals for 10 years, although he was told he was eligible to apply to the court for the order to be lifted in seven years.
At the hearing, magistrates were told how Oram, who pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the dog, has a long history of violent offending. The RSPCA was tipped off about Tyson after a comment on Facebook.
Prosecuting, Robert Broughton said that RSPCA officer Clint Davies went to interview Oram on February 6 this year. He said: “When asked where the animal was, the defendant told him he had given it to a friend, but that he didn’t have a telephone number or address for that person. He said he’d met him on the street.”
During a later visit, Oram admitted that he had drowned the dog in the bath. Mr Broughton added: “Oram said that he and his partner Emma Barker had been talking about putting the dog down for a while.
“He wasn’t sure if it had some pit bull in it, and it had bitten him three times.”
Oram claimed he wasn’t sure what options he had and didn’t ring the RSPCA because he was worried about the dog’s pitbull features. Both he and his partner were on benefits so they could not afford a vet bill.
He admitted taking the dog into the bathroom and holding him under the water for two minutes. He said the dog didn’t struggle or fight him.
He went into the living room, cried, then 20 minutes later came back into the bathroom and drained the bath, wrapped the dog in a sheet and some polythene and waited for his stepson to return from school.
They went to the woods and buried the dog in the snow.
When RSPCA officers found the dog they ordered a post-mortem examination which showed bruising to the base of the dog’s skull, but Oram could not explain how it got there. The vet also said that the dog would have struggled to get free, as is its instinct.
Mitigating for Oram, solicitor John Wistow said: “His stepson had previously had a dog named Benji that had disappeared. He couldn’t put out of his mind the possibility that the dog was still running around somewhere. He wanted to prevent that situation again so he did it that way. He thought a funeral would make it better for the stepson.
“He knows he is in the wrong and he is prepared for the consequences.”
Oram said the dog had been well-trained and well looked after but had been clipped by a car four months previously and his behaviour had changed. He had bitten Oram three times and then a burglary had taken place at his home in Reigate Walk. During that burglary, instead of biting the burglars, the dog had bitten Oram.
The court also heard how there had been recent threats made on Facebook that Oram’s two-week old baby daughter would be drowned.
Magistrate Russell Watson said: “We are concerned with the involvement of children [in this case] and there was considerable suffering to the animal.
“There is a record of violence.”
Magistrates said they would have passed a six-month prison sentence but had reduced this to 18 weeks because Oram had pleaded guilty. They told him he could not own another animal for 10 years.
His girlfriend Emma Barker has denied being involved in the crime and will face trial in October.
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Clint Davies said he was disappointed in the sentence. He said: “I would have liked to have seen a lifetime ban on him keeping animals.
“It doesn’t really send the right message out to people that they can’t simply drown their dog if they no longer want it.
“There’s never an excuse for this kind of cruelty to animals, and I am especially shocked at the involvement of the child.
“When you see people laughing and joking coming out of court saying that he will be out in nine weeks anyway, it doesn’t really seem to be much of a deterrent.”
Oram has previous convictions for death by dangerous driving, GBH and ABH. In 2007 he was jailed for 21 months for attacking a 15-year-old boy at a party who then had his face reconstructed using metal plates.