Mark Sharp jailed for pouring boiling water on his girlfriend’s dog

Mark Sharp jailed for pouring boiling water on his girlfriend’s dog

Photo from the BBC


We have looked on several occasions at the question of whether the sentence available for animal cruelty offences are too short.

On 3rd October 2016 there was another potential example of this, when Mark Sharp was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison for causing unnecessary suffering to Daisy, a King Charles Spaniel that belonged to his girlfriend.



Mr Sharp was in a relationship with a woman (who was unnamed in the news reports) who owned a three year King Charles Spaniel  called Daisy.

Unknown to the girlfriend, in January of this year Mr Sharp, who was suffering from depression, began to abuse Daisy.

This was on a number of occasions. Daisy would be taken to the vet by her owner, who believed that these injuries were accidental. However in one visit earlier this year, it became clear that there was more to it than that.

Daisy was suffering from burns from having boiling water poured on her, as well as having had her pelvis broken in two places and nine broken ribs.

It seems that that, coupled with the fact that Daisy would ‘cower and urinate around’ Mr Sharp, made the position clear and Mr Sharp was arrested.

On the face of it, he pleaded guilty to this and received the sentence above, as well as being banned from having animals for 15 years.



The starting point is the Sentencing Guidelines. It seems that it was put in the highest category, presumably on the basis of an attempt to kill or torture Daisy. It is hard to argue against that given the injuries.

This gives a starting point of 18 weeks custody, with a range of 12-26 weeks. Depending on the credit for the plea, this gives a sentence of around 4-5 months, so towards the top end.

Given the facts, this would not appear to be unfair, and although there might be an appeal, we would not expect it to succeed.

If, as we have suggested, this offence should be an either way one with a maximum sentence of 2, or even 5, years, then this is an example of the sort of offending that would end up in the Crown Court.

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


  1. The only punishment that these people ( and criminals in general I might add) understand is pain. You can lock people up, tag them, put them under curfew or make them do community service and its all way too soft. He should have boiling water poured over him as punishment – full stop. Of course the liberal bleeding hearts that occupy the legal and social professions will support the criminal and write articles for The Grauniad sending Islington into a frenzy.

  2. Just noticed this.

    Captain: let me ask the question that I always ask of the bring-back-the-birch brigade. The proportion of female defendants in the Youth Court is rising and some of them are as violent as the boys. So would you apply this reasoning to girls too?

    I notice that you seem to regard dogs as mattering as much as people; I don’t condone cruelty to our dumb friends but I regard this offence as far less serious than doing the same thing to an adult human – and if it were done to a child that would be massively more serious again. Do you agree?

    Incidentally I don’t read the Guardian any more than I do the Daily Hate Mail!