Couple who threw dog into sea convicted

An Exmouth couple who repeatedly threw their dog into the sea have been found guilty of causing it unnecessary suffering.

John Nesbitt, 62, and Linda Jones, 51, both of Summer Close, were caught by a passing photographer hurling their pet Jess off the end of the concrete Mamhead Slipway.

Although there was no evidence the dog had been injured, Exeter Magistrates Court heard from an RSPCA vet who had studied the pictures that Jess could have suffered spinal injuries from twisting through the air, and facial injuries from hitting the water.

Prosecutor Clifford Howard said the photos of the incident suggested the water Jess was being thrown into was shallow.

He said: “They’re standing on a white line which says 15 metres to end, which I think indicates there’s another 15 metres of concrete before it drops off.

“The water immediately in front of where they were standing has concrete underneath. They were throwing their dog into shallow water, and potentially solid concrete.”

RSPCA vet David Cooper appeared in court as an expert witness, and said Jess could have been badly hurt.

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He said: “Based on the photographs, [the incident] could have caused fear and distress to the dog, and could potentially have caused very serious injury.”

When asked if people who treated animals in that way should be allowed to keep pets, Mr Cooper said they should not.

The couple did not give evidence during their trial, but in police interviews read to the court Jones had defended their actions by saying they were trying to cool the dog off on a hot day.

Jones said: “I always throw my dog in the sea if I think she’s too hot. I’d gladly do it again.”

She and Nesbitt were both convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing for pre-sentence reports to be prepared. The couple are expected to appeal their convictions.

Jess has been seized by the RSPCA, and is currently living in a foster home.

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