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Gardener who drowned his neighbour’s cat avoids jail

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Richard Giles, 69, is being made to pay £1,000 in compensation to the cat’s owner, Shirley Gear-Evans (Picture: BNPS)

A gardener who drowned his neighbour’s cat after it kept attacking birds and digging up his vegetable patch has avoided jail.

Retired businessman Richard Giles, 69, put tabby cat Ruby in a sack and then held her in a water butt until she was dead – then dumped her body in a ditch.

He was sentenced for an animal cruelty charge at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court in Dorset yesterday.

He was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year, but must also pay £1,000 in compensation to the cat’s owner and court costs of £728.

The court heard how worried Shirley Gear-Evans, 65, asked Giles if he had seen her pet after two days of searching for her.

But Giles then told her: ‘You won’t find her. I’ve killed her.’

The angry gardener had apparently become fed up with the cat coming onto his £1 million property, in the village of Adber near Sherborne, and causing a nuisance.

He and his late wife Judy had created a wildlife haven in their garden for birds, which she attacked. He also said the cat was ‘ruining’ his crops, which included carrots and leeks.

Giles was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year (Picture: BNPS)

But the last straw came on September 19 last year when Giles found Ruby in his kitchen after he had left some food out.

Matthew Knight, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: ‘In interview he fully admitted he had drowned the cat in his water butt and dumped the body in a ditch.

‘He said he killed her because he was concerned with germs and the effect of the cat on local birds.

‘He criticised the owner for getting her from a rescue centre and criticised her for not training the cat.

‘It is clear Mr Giles was under the impression his actions were justified.’

The court heard Giles fell out with Ms Gear-Evans after he discovered she had taken in a rescue cat to keep her company after she retired.

Ms Gear-Evans, 65, said what happened has had a ‘huge impact’ on her life (Picture: BNPS)

He continued to blame Ms Gear-Evans for Ruby’s death, telling RSPCA investigators the widow should have trained her not to go after birds.

Giles told magistrates at a previous hearing: ‘I said from get go I was guilty.

‘I did it because I was driven to it. The cat kept coming on my property and ruining my fruit and vegetables. I work hard.’

Vet Katrina Knill told the court Ruby would have suffered terrible stress.

‘In my opinion death by drowning is a cause of extreme and unnecessary suffering to an animal and one of the most distressing states in which to see an animal,’ she said.

‘In water an animal will either hold its breath or its airway goes into spasm. Both cases are extremely stressful and cause the animal to thrash around.

‘When the animal is exhausted and no longer able to hold its breath, water rushes in. Brain activity continues for around three minutes prior to death.’

In a victim impact statement, retired NHS manager Ms Gear-Evans said what happened had a ‘huge impact’ on her life.

Ruby was a rescue tabby cat adopted by Ms Gear-Evans to keep her company in retirement (Picture: BNPS)

She said: ‘I am now looking at making security arrangements and the police have advised me to take out a civil injunction. I no longer feel I can have another cat.’

The court was told Giles used to be a successful businessman, and had employed up to 35 people before selling his company Adber Weld and Crane Hire at the age of 47.

His references described him as a ‘true countryman’ and he was a much respected member of the community.

Defence lawyer Des Reynolds said: ‘He is about as amiable a man as you could wish to meet.

‘He built this house and outbuildings as a kind of haven for wildlife, creating habitats for birds in particular.

‘That’s a huge irony at the heart of this case – he is charged with animal cruelty and he has a passion for wildlife.

‘What he did was ill-judged, wrong and he will have to face the consequences.

‘The final straw came last September when he found the cat in the kitchen where he had his food out.

‘Out of complete exasperation, he put it onto a sack and held it under water.’

Magistrate Richard MacRae said: ‘It is a very serious offence and has caused a lot of distress, not just to the owner but to the general public as well by all accounts.’

Giles pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at a previous hearing.

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