Dog throw couple given suspended sentence

PUBLISHED: 09:23 02 December 2011 | UPDATED: 15:10 02 December 2011

Linda Jones throws her dog Jess into the water as John Nesbitt looks on.

Linda Jones throws her dog Jess into the water as John Nesbitt looks on.

Archant

An Exmouth couple, who were convicted of animal cruelty after throwing their dog into the sea, have been given suspended prison sentences.

John Nesbitt, 62, and Linda Jones, 51, both of Summer Close, had been found guilty of causing an animal unnecessary suffering after a passing photographer caught them repeatedly throwing their dog Jess from Mamhead Slipway.

In a hearing at Exeter Magistrates Court, they were both sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Magistrates also gave the couple a six month supervision order, and banned them from keeping animals for 10 years, although Nesbitt was given one month to re-house his cat, which currently lives with the couple.

The magistrates also ordered that Jess should remain in the custody of the RSPCA, who have been looking after the dog since the couple were charged.

The court heard how the photographer had been taking pictures on Exmouth seafront, when he saw both Nesbitt and then Jones pick up their dog and throw it into the sea.

They also heard how an RSPCA vet who had studied the photos said the dog had attempted to right itself in mid air, and could have suffered injuries from landing in shallow water.

The magistrates were also told that Jones had claimed in police interviews to have thrown the dog into the sea to cool it down on a hot day, and said she would do it again.

In mitigation, the court was told there was no evidence the dog had suffered any physical injuries during the incident, and that Jones and Nesbitt had no previous convictions for animal cruelty in 20 years of pet ownership.

Despite this, magistrates said their offences were so serious that a custodial sentence was their only option.

The couple have lodged appeals against their convictions.

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