Stevenage hamster killer avoids jail

SHOWING “uncontrollable rage” in a drink and drug-fuelled argument with his ex-girlfriend, a man threw a hamster against a wall and stamped on it to kill it.

Ryan O’Brien, of Wisden Road in Stevenage, appeared for sentencing at Stevenage Magistrates Court today (Wednesday) after earlier pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Unemployed O’Brien, 22, killed the hamster, Dave, which belonged to his ex-girlfriend Jemma Tracey, after their four-year relationship ended.

Tariq Iqbal, defending, said: “Their relationship came to an end when O’Brien found out through a DNA test that he was not the father of Miss Tracey’s 13-month-old daughter.”

Miss Tracey, who lives with her daughter Honesty on Chester Road in Stevenage, had gone round to O’Brien’s bedsit on July 23 last year to collect her belongings. He had been looking after her two hamsters.

Mark Jones, prosecuting, said: “He was swearing and shouting,” and Miss Tracey described his face as “bright with anger”.

Mr Jones continued: “She went to get her hamsters. He said give me �20 or you’re not having them.

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“He stood over the cage, put his hand inside, took out a hamster and said ‘you have got one more chance. Give me �20.’

“He pulled his arm backwards and threw the hamster as hard as he could against the wall. She heard a loud thud and saw it fall.

“He picked it up, dropped it to the floor and stamped on it. He laughed.”

As Miss Tracey, 23, tried to retrieve the second hamster, O’Brien threatened to put it in a microwave to kill it, the court heard. She gave him �5 and was allowed to leave with the hamster.

O’Brien was arrested the following day after Miss Tracey reported the incident to the RSPCA.

Mr Jones called it “premeditated gratuitous cruelty”, but O’Brien denied it was premeditated.

Mr Iqbal said: “He hated her and would have done anything he possibly could to hurt her without touching her.

“He knew she loved animals, particularly hamsters. Without giving it any thought, in a situation fuelled by drugs and drink, he threw it against the wall.

“It’s an appalling offence, and an offence he does completely regret.”

While magistrates deliberated his sentence, O’Brien joked with people in the public gallery, with one man removed from court for laughing.

O’Brien was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, told to attend a substance abuse programme and ordered to carry out 140 hours unpaid work in the community. He must contribute �375 towards court costs.

O’Brien was given a lifetime ban on owning or keeping animals, and any animals he currently has will be seized.

Sentencing, magistrate Malcolm Wulwick addressed O’Brien and said: “You wilfully killed and mutilated a helpless animal in uncontrollable rage.”

Following the verdict, Miss Tracey told the Comet: “He did wrong and has got away with it.

“He didn’t care. I saw him laughing and smiling. He hasn’t got any remorse for what he’s done.

“I have got so much anger. I just can’t forgive him.”