17th February 2017 is World Cat Day (if you don’t know what this is, search #WorldCatDay on twitter – there are a lot of cats). And in one small corner of England, the felines had their revenge on a human.
For reasons unknown, and if they can be explained then they are not in the BBC article, last March then 18 year old Frankie Mills went on a ‘week-long animal cruelty spree’ during which he shot 7 cats with an air rifle.
The full list of casualties are :
- Bomber – shot in the neck and died
- Ruby – shot in the neck and had to be put down (she was later exhumed as part of the investigation)
- Coco – shot in the eye, which had to be later removed
- Black and White (seems an odd name for a cat, but we’re going on the news reports) was shot at through a window and was injured when he fell
- Dexter – shot twice in the upper leg and needed an operation
- Pebbles – shot in the eye and had to have it removed
- Snoopy – shot outside the front door of his owners’ home and needed his leg amputated
Mr Mills was sentenced to 2 years youth detention meaning (as the news reports, unusually, pointed out) that he will served half in detention and half on licence.
We have asked the question before as to whether sentences for animal cruelty are too short, and posit the answer ‘yes’, given the six month maximum sentence.
How come then, did Mr Mills get what seems like four times the maximum?
It’s not entirely clear. We are told that he was convicted of 7 counts of criminal damage, and 7 ‘firearms charges’.
Criminal Damage is complicated – the general rule is that if the value of the damage is under £5,000 then the matter will be tried in the magistrates’ court with a maximum sentence of 3 months.
But can you ‘criminally damage’ a cat? The answer is yes for the same reason, essentially, as you can steal a cat (although it is a different law).
The owners may have considered the cats to be priceless, but in monetary terms it is likely that they would be worth less than the £5,000 threshold. It can get complicated as to whether the Crown Court would be bound by this, but as a general rule the Court should not pass a sentence of more than 3 months.
It could be that the Judge passed consecutive sentences, although that would generally not be appropriate.
What were the firearms charges? We don’t know. The obvious one would be s19 Firearms Act 1968 – ‘carrying a firearm in a public place’. The maximum sentence is 7 years, unless the weapon is an air weapon, in which case it is 6 months
This is complicated by the fact that an air weapon may fall into different categories.
At this stage, although I think everyone would agree that the sentence was richly deserved, we will need a bit more detail before looking at how the sentence was constructed.