Published: 10:08, 05 October 2017
A sadistic brute killed a pet hamster because he believed it preferred his tormented girlfriend to him, a court heard.
Enraged Lewis Fox repeatedly hurled the rodent called Beano at a wall to kill it.
He and his 18-year-old girlfriend were considering having a child and she bought the hamster to see if he could look after it.
But he killed it within a week. He bought four replacement hamsters, two of which were called Gizmo and Bud, and two rats and killed them also.
Prosecutor Trevor Wright said Fox, 22, even sent his now former girlfriend images of a dead hamster.
He strangled one with a telephone cable lead, squeezed one to death and set fire to one because it bit him.
“He said he burnt its toes off with a lighter,” Mr Wright told Maidstone Crown Court.
A judge said; “Killing animals in the way he did is grotesque in its own way.”
Fox, of Barrow Grove, Sittingbourne, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour.
He was jailed for 14 months - 10 months for controlling behaviour and four months consecutive for animal cruelty - and banned indefinitely from keeping any animals.
Craig Evans, defending, said the animal cruelty offence was topical as it was in the wake of a Government plan for tougher sentences.
The maximum sentence is currently six months imprisonment and the intention is to increase it to five years.
A restraining order banning contact with his ex-girlfriend was placed on Fox, whose new girlfriend is pregnant with his child.
Mr Wright said the couple started a relationship in late 2014 but within the first month Fox was texting other girls.
He started controlling her by telling her what to wear, criticised her for using too much makeup and told her to dye her hair. When she did so he said he did not like it.
He monitored her social media accounts and flirted with her friends. He was paranoid to be seen with her. He became upset when she went out without him. He spat in her face on many occasions.
“Perhaps most disgustingly of all, she described how he would pick his nose and then the bloody contents of his fingers would be wiped in her hair,” said Mr Wright.
On her 18th birthday in July 2015, he gave her a cake and threw it on the floor. He broke up with her and kicked her out of the house.
They made up but he then told her: “You don’t know how much I want to strangle and hurt you.”
He threatened suicide on New Year’s Eve because he was rejected by other women.
“They talked about their future together,” said Mr Wright. “They talked about trying for a baby. She said she wanted to see if he was capable of caring for something.
“She bought a baby hamster to see if he could look after it. Within a week he killed that hamster because he reckoned that little animal preferred her to him.”
After killing the replacement pets he tried to strangle his partner. She had bruises on her wrists from being held down and on her body from being pushed into things.
On another occasion he poured a bottle of water over her and burnt her with a cigarette.
Mr Wright said the former scaffolder, who has a fox tattoo on his chest, used his girlfriend for sex despite being with another woman.
In November last year, she was lying next to him in bed when she awoke to find him with his hands around her throat after he looked at he phone and saw she was texting another man.
She could not breathe and feared she would die. He told her it would be so easy to snap her neck. She begged him to stop but he continued to throttle her for about 10 minutes.
Her father gave her £4,000 as an 18th birthday present and Fox borrowed £1,580 from her and did not pay it back.
After his arrest, he claimed they were as bad as each other. “He said he didn’t have any feelings for ‘nothing or no one’,” said Mr Wright. “Not even love for his mother.”
A psychiatric report found that Fox, who suffers from ADHD, had a personality disorder, and a callous disregard for others.
Judge Julian Smith said Fox had very quickly become controlling and domineering with his then girlfriend.
“You were cruel and contemptuous of her,” he said. “It was undermining. It was distressing. Undoubtedly, it was debilitating in its effect on her.
“You were cruel to those creatures, you were cruel to your partner. You struggle on occasions to see what it is you have done wrong" - Judge Julian Smith
“She didn’t trust you to care for a child and wanted you to prove yourself. So it was you bought this hamster. You killed it within a week because it was to prefer her to you.
“You bought six or seven other animals. You killed them all. It was characterised by cruelty. It was distressing for her, not least because you sent her images of the dead creature, intending it should cause her, as it inevitably did, distress and anxiety.
“You were cruel to those creatures, you were cruel to your partner. You struggle on occasions to see what it is you have done wrong.
“You struggled to see why it should be an issue. It is just what you do. I have continuing concerns about your future behaviour towards partners and animals.
“You lack insight. Custody will have a significant impact. You have self-harmed in the past and there have been serious attempts at taking your own life.”
The judge added: “This kind of behaviour is corrosive and destructive to those who are the victim of it. You have not got the insight to address those problems.”
He admitted the sentence was “relatively moderate” given the impact of Fox’s behaviour and persistence.
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