Karl Dyke, cat strangler, sent to prison

Karl Dyke, cat strangler, sent to prison



Neighbourhood disputes can turn ugly, but Karl Dyke took things to a very ugly level when he found Coralie (a cat belonging to Mr and Mrs Lawrence’s) urinating on his lawn.

Mr Dyke went and grabbed Coarlie from the fence. Fortunately Mrs Lawrence heard the cat cry and ran out to see what was happening. She “Mr Dyke was standing there smirking, with a rope in one hand and our cat dangling from the other.”

The cat was rescued and taken to the vets where, fortunately, despite having “multiple neck injuries [and] soft tissue damage to her neck and had a small cut on her lower lip.” there was no permanent physical damage.

In a measure of which Damian Green would approve, there was a feline Victim Impact Statement read to the court. This reported that since the incident Coarlie has been “a bit more nervous now, and avoids groups of people“.


Mr Dyke pleaded guilty in July. It seems that there was a Newton hearing where the magistrates decided that they did not believe Mr Dykes account that he was just teaching the cat a lesson and wasn’t intending to kill her.

The fact that he lost a Newton hearing means that Mr Dyke got less ‘credit’ for his plea of guilty, but he would still have got some.

On 11th November 2013, he received an immediate custodial sentence of 20 weeks. It is probably the magistrates would have started at 24 weeks and reduced this by a fifth to give the sentence that was imposed.

The law

There are various provisions impacting on animals, but it seems that this case involved an offence under s4 Animals Act 2006. This requires proving that Mr Dyke :

  • Did an act (or failed to act) to a ‘protected’ animal
  • Causing that animal to ‘suffer’
  • Where he knew (or should have known) that the act would cause this suffering
  • And that the suffering is ‘unnecessary’

Even the most ardent cat-hater would agree that hanging a cat from a skipping rope would cause it unnecessary suffering.

The maximum sentence is 6 months imprisonment, so it would seem that Mr Dyke received pretty much the top whack that he could for this.

The Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines apply (page 22). As an attempt to kill, this is in the highest category, with a range up to 26 weeks.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. “The fact that he lost a Newton hearing means that Mr Dyke got less ‘credit’ for his plea of guilty, but he would still have got some.”

    Whilst the net result in this instance might well be fairly similar, namely a higher sentence, Mr Dyke will have got exactly the same credit for his guilty plea as any other offender, i.e. up to a third, depending on when he entered it. It sounds as if he entered his plea fairly early, but one has to be careful in the absence of more facts. It could have been at the court door on the day of trial, in which case a 10th off would have been all the credit he would have got.

    What a Newton Hearing does is decide which version of the facts the Court chooses to believe, on the evidence put forward, and is often used when a “basis of plea” is entered by a defendant. “I plead guilty, because I did ‘this’, but I didn’t do ‘that’ in addition as the prosecution alleges” (for example).

  2. I have to say I disagree … The rules on credit for a plea of guilty can be seen in the factsheet that we linked to.

    If there is a Newton hearing where the Court disbelieves the defendant’s account then the credit that they receive will be less than if they had not had a Newton (albeit that there will still be some credit).

    See the (relatively) recent case of Caley (paras 26-27) for a clear statement on this.

  3. Did you say you were a maths freak?

    If they started at 24 and ended at 20 weeks that’s a sixth off, not a fifth. At least in base ten.

    • Well, I tend to operate in base 8, but fair enough – I accept that not everyone does and it could be a bit confusing 🙂

      But if you insist on operating in base 10, then I grudgingly accept that that I got it wrong…

      It does remind me of a good maths problem – what is 12 squared (in base 8)?