'Paranoid' thug who stabbed pet dog to death walks free from court
A DAD who knifed his family's pet dog to death has walked free from court.
Christopher Hill, who has mental health problems, killed Patterdale terrier Maggie by stabbing her in the throat in the back garden of his home.
Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court heard how Hill had been drinking alcohol as well as looking after his 18-month-old daughter at the time of the incident, last November.
Hill's wife came home and asked where Maggie was and he said she had escaped.
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She noticed his clothes were covered in blood and asked whether he had killed the dog.
Peter Sutcliffe, prosecuting, said: "He became very upset and said this was the case.
"Mrs Hill left her husband and they have lived apart ever since."
Hill pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animal under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.
He was previously given unconditional bail and the case was adjourned until yesterday so that he could be assessed for a mental health treatment programme.
The court heard how Hill had long-standing depression and suffered from paranoid thoughts.
Stephen Cooper, speaking on behalf of Hill, said: "He has perhaps gone undiagnosed and untreated but this episode, this incident, has been the trigger for him to get help."
The court was told that Hill had been drinking alcohol leading up to the dog's death, on a night out in Derby, returning home in the early hours of Sunday, November 13.
Hill continued to drink on Sunday and Monday, when the incident took place.
Mr Cooper said alcohol played a part in the incident, along with the factors of mental illness and sleep deprivation.
Mr Cooper said Hill thought the dog was unwanted by his wife.
"He (Hill) was the one who bought the dog," said Mr Cooper.
"He believed the family was falling apart and he believed the dog would bring the family together.
"He also believed his wife had not taken to the dog and called it smelly and dirty."
Hill was living with his wife and daughter at High Street, Swanwick, at the time of the incident.
Since the incident, the couple, who were married for 14 years, have separated.
Mr Cooper said Hill had shown remorse for his actions.
He said: "It's not something that he can understand.
"It was a sad terrible incident of its own factors."
Mr Cooper added: "It was one-off and will never be repeated.
"He is a man of good character and he has no previous convictions."
Hill was given a 18-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He must do 200 hours of unpaid work, attend a mental health treatment programme for six months and pay £1,500.
He has been banned from keeping animals for life.
RSPCA inspector David McAdam, who dealt with the case, said: "This type of offence I find brutal and extreme. It is clear that this would have caused severe pain and suffering.
"I totally agree and I am pleased with the decision made by the court and I think it is clear that they have taken the matter extremely seriously.
"Let's hope the defendant learns by what the court have said."