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A man who microwaved his pet rabbit to death has been jailed for 16 weeks - with a judge branding the killing "sadistic".
Paul Rogers, 60, watched as the helpless creature writhed and squealed inside the oven for three minutes before leaving its lifeless body on a saucepan lid in his room.
The homeless drifter, who was living temporarily at the Dorchester Guesthouse in Gloucester, had bought the female rabbit only five days earlier from a pet shop.
Rogers, who spent periods in psychiatric hospitals, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to causing an animal unnecessary suffering on October 28 last year.
Passing sentence, District Judge Joti Boparai said Rogers had planned the killing:
"This is one of the most upsetting and unpleasant cases I have dealt with for a long time. Animal cruelty is bad enough when people abuse their pets, but this has resulted in very extreme suffering by a helpless rabbit. You thought about it, you planned it and you decided to carry out this sadistic act - and not only that, once you put the rabbit in that microwave you watched it while it squealed in that microwave. Three minutes is an extremely long time for anything to be suffering in the way I have heard.
"Your case passes the custody threshold but I have to consider whether I can suspend the sentence. This case is so cruel and the suffering of that animal is so extreme that regardless of your personal circumstances I cannot suspend it. Therefore the sentence will be 16 weeks."
Rogers, of no fixed address, was also banned from keeping animals for life and told he could not apply to have the ban lifted for 10 years. He was also ordered to pay £200 prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
Rafe Turner, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said a fellow resident at the guest house had made the grim discovery after going to Rogers' room to feed the rabbit - finding it dead on a saucepan lid next to the microwave.
Rogers had earlier told the man he had killed it after microwaving it for three minutes but the man did not believe him and thought he was "taking the mickey".
After finding the rabbit the man called the police, who seized the pet and the microwave.
"We think the prison sentence is completely appropriate in a case like this where you can only really describe the defendant as evil in what he did. It is one of the nastiest cases I have come across.
"Obviously we completely welcome the ban. It is the most important thing to make sure the gentleman doesn't have anything to do with animals again."
The RSPCA has reported a big increase in the number of abandoned animals in our region with almost 1,500 cases so far this year.
- Bristol 209 cases
- Somerset 541 cases
- Wiltshire 354 cases
- Gloucestershire 318 cases
They include these three rare red-footed tortoises which were found in rabbit hutches at a pet store in Gloucester. If they'd been left outside for any longer they could have really suffered.
The charity has begun an appeal to help it tackle a problem where it says too many animals are being dumped like rubbish. It worries that it will get even worse as winter draws in.
The RSPCA has warned people not to buy dogs or puppies at Priddy Sheep Fair in Somerset.
The annual event takes place on Wednesday but the charity said some dogs bought in previous years turned out to be in poor health.
A cat and her two kittens are recovering after being dumped by the police station in Gloucester.
The animals were wrapped in a pink paw print blanket and left on a bench in Berkeley Street where they were spotted by a member of the public.
They're being looked after by the RSPCA who say they are well cared for.
If the owner can't be traced, the person that found them has offered to take them in.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Heywood said: “The mother and kittens were left right next to the police station but no-one saw who dumped them, or when. By the time they were found they were obviously very distressed and frightened. Thank goodness for the swift actions of the passer-by"
The RSPCA says it is getting more reports of animal cruelty and neglect then ever but is doing its best to tackle what it calls a growing crisis. Last year the charity secured more convictions for animal cruelty in Somerset than anywhere else in the south of England.
The RSPCA has secured more convictions for animal cruelty in Somerset than anywhere else in the south of England, according to new figures. Last year 42 people were found guilty of more than a hundred offences. The charity says it's getting more reports of cruelty than ever.
Police are appealing for information after a dog was found hanged in Somerset. The lurcher was found by a group of horse riders at a property on Stonage Lane, in Haselbury Plucknett, near Crewkerne.
Police believe the dog was "killed deliberately in a cruel act". They are asking for anyone who may have been walking in the area at the time to come forward.
The RSPCA has been informed of the incident.
"The death of an animal is always upsetting when it may have been done intentionally. We believe the dog was killed deliberately in a cruel act and we are conducting enquiries to establish how the dog died and who is responsible."