Dog Magazine

Michael Heathcock & Richard Finch Hammered a Nail in to Dog’s Head Before Burying Him Alive

Two men from Redcar have been jailed for four months after admitting their part in hammering a nail into a dog’s head before burying him alive, in a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA.

Owner Michael Alan Heathcock of Ontario Crescent and his friend Richard Mark Anthony Finch of Geneva Drive appeared before Teesside Magistrates’ Court on March 1st 2017.

RSPCA inspector Nick Jones said: “A couple out walking discovered terrier ‘Scamp’ in Kirkleatham Woods around midday on Wednesday 19 October 2016, after hearing a whimpering sound and going to explore a mound of earth.

“They got some local workmen to dig him out with a shovel, and, if that wasn’t horrific enough, Scamp had a nail sticking out from between his eyes.

“They called the police before rushing Scamp to a nearby vets who were left with no choice but to put him to sleep. That’s when we were notified.”

The RSPCA appealed for information in the media and two days later, on Friday 21 October 2016, Heathcock and Finch attended a police station where they were arrested and interviewed by the RSPCA.

At a hearing last week, Heathcock admitted two offences under the Animal Welfare Act – (1.) causing unnecessary suffering to Scamp by inflicting blunt force trauma and hammering a nail through his skull and (2.) between 19 May and 19 October 2016, causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide necessary veterinary care and attention for Scamp’s numerous ailments including incontinence, inappetence, hind limb weakness and disorientation.

The court heard that Scamp had been suffering from an untreated brain tumour for a number of months which caused the symptoms.

Today, Heathcock was sentenced to four months in prison and a lifetime disqualification on keeping any animals. He was ordered to pay £100 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

Finch admitted one offence under the Animal Welfare Act of aiding or abetting, counseling or procuring Heathcock to cause unnecessary suffering to Scamp by the infliction of blunt force trauma and the hammering of a nail through his skull.

Today, he too was sentenced to four months in prison and a lifetime disqualification on keeping any animals. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, the court heard that Heathcock couldn’t afford to pay for a vet and felt that they were putting Scamp out of his misery. It heard the pair thought he was already dead when they buried him.

RSPCA inspector Jones said: “Scamp had been suffering for months but instead of seek veterinary treatment his owner and his owner’s friend decided to take him to a secluded spot in the woods and hammered a nail into his head.

“There were four indentations in his skull, where they had attempted to hammer the nail in and failed. Scamp had also suffered a burst skull fracture from a large trauma ‘such as a hammer’.

“It is very hard to think about what he went through. It’s been a truly harrowing case for everyone involved.

“The only consolation is that Scamp’s final moments were spent being comforted by the kind strangers who found him, and the wonderful staff at the vets.”

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