Two brothers have been jailed for kicking a hedgehog to death.
Christopher Hoar, 31, and his brother Adam, 23, were caught on camerarepeatedly kicking the animal like a football shortly after midnight on July 7at Dalton Park retail centre at Murton, County Durham.
Security staff were suspicious about what they were up to and CCTV cameras caught them attacking the hedgehog in what District Judge Kristina Harrison described as torture.
The pair admitted inflicting unnecessary suffering contrary to the Wild Mammal Protection Act, at a hearing at Peterlee Magistrates' Court.
Denise Jackman, for the RSPCA, said Adam Hoar initially claimed under caution that they had thought the hedgehog was a football, before admitting the truth.
They then showed remorse and agreed it would have hurt the animal, theprosecuting solicitor said.
Ms Jackman said security staff recognised one of the men on camera as he used to work at the McDonald's on the site.
Judge Harrison said: "I cannot see how anybody their size was doing anything other than torturing the hedgehog by kicking it around the place, using it as a football."
Sentencing the brothers, who hung their heads, she told them: "This is ahorrible case where you have tortured an animal who has hurt absolutely nobody and whose numbers in the wild are rapidly dwindling.
"If people feel horrified by the case, quite frankly they are absolutely rightto do so."
After jailing them for six weeks and making them pay £250 compensation each, Judge Harrison said: "I have no truck with animal cruelty cases."
Jailing them "sends out a message", she said.
Nick Musgrove, defending, had asked for suspended jail terms.
He said Adam Hoar, of Malvern Crescent, Seaham, was in poor health as he has Huntington's Disease, which had killed his father.
Mr Musgrove said Christopher Hoar, of Woods Terrace, Murton, was in full time work as a baker.
Both defendants were full of remorse, he said.
Outside court, RSPCA Inspector Helen Nedley who investigated the case said the sentence sent out a message.
She said: "Wild animals have protection as well as domestic ones.
"We are here to protect both."