'Sadistic' man caught on CCTV pushing dog to her death in icy River Wear in Sunderland

Stephen Peveller has been jailed after he killed his pet dog by pushing it into the River Wear during icy conditions last December. Credit: NCJ Media Syndication

A man who killed his pet dog by pushing her into an icy river has been jailed.

Stephen Peveller threw the 12-year-old Pomeranian against railings next to the River Wear, in Sunderland, leaving her injured and struggling to get up after banging her head.

The 48-year-old then put her through the railings and pushed over the edge of the river to her death.

Peveller, who has a previous conviction for child cruelty, has been jailed at Newcastle Crown Court for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal which he had claimed he needed for emotional support.

The court heard Peveller was observed at Panns Bank by a Sunderland Council worker at about 7:40am on 17 December last year.

Stephen Peveller has been jailed for 27 months after admitting to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Credit: NCJ Media

Penny Hall, prosecuting, said: "The defendant can be seen being abusive to a small dog.

"He dragged it by the neck before throwing it towards some railings alongside a path by the River Wear. There are railings then a drop into the river beyond it.

"The dog hit the railings and fell on its back. It moves, frantically trying to get back up. The defendant tried to put it on its legs, which it eventually managed to do itself.

"The defendant then dragged the dog again before lifting it onto the other side of the railings on the edge of the path above the river. He then pushed the dog off and it went out of site, clearly going into the river.

"He then looked over the railings, looking in the river before he left the area."

The council worker contacted police and when they spoke to Peveller, he claimed the dog had fallen into the river and suggested he was worried.

The police subsequently found Pomeranian dead in the river.

Recorder Mark Giuliani said: "He killed the dog through his actions.

"He threw it against the railings and it's injured and then threw the injured dog into the river."

He added: "It was sadistic behaviour. He dragged the dog, the dog looked up to him for help and he puts it over the barrier and pushed it into the cold river."

  • Warning: Distressing Content / Video Credit: NCJ Media

Sentencing him to 27 months in prison, the judge said: "You were walking along with your pet dog, a dog which in May last year you were seeking to keep in a hotel where you were living because it was your emotional support dog and you wanted to keep it despite hotel rules that pets were not allowed.

"It's clear from the footage that even though you had injured the dog she still looked at you as her master for support. You did nothing to assist her, instead when she managed to get back on her feet and was clearly struggling and was clearly looking for you for support, you picked her up put her on the other side of the railings then threw her to her death into the river or the bank of the river. You killed your own dog callously and wickedly."

Peveller pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. As well as the prison sentence he was banned from owning or keeping animals for life.

The court heard he has mild learning difficulties but exaggerates the extent of them.

Jennifer Coxon, defending, said: "There is no getting around that this was a hideous incident and there's not much mitigation I can put forward for his behaviour given he has no memory of what he has done. It's an awful incident in relation to a dog which was his own for some time.

"He can't recall owning a dog himself. He is a vulnerable man and has limited intellectual functioning. He is in supported accommodation with support from social services although that's going to be reduced because how he presents currently, he is more able to look after his needs."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...