Woman admits killing kittens

Dawn Swinscoe leaving Exeter magistrates court. Photo by Terry Ife ref exe 2334-20-13TI

Dawn Swinscoe leaving Exeter magistrates court. Photo by Terry Ife ref exe 2334-20-13TI - Credit: Archant

A woman has been given a suspended prison sentence for drowning kittens in Littleham.

Dawn Swinscoe, 41, admitted two charges of animal cruelty at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, after an incident last year when four kittens were drowned in a basin.

Swinscoe was charged jointly with Glen Williams, 44, of Pendennis Road, Torquay, who failed to attend court. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Magistrates heard that Swinscoe contended she only went along with the drowning as she feared Williams would be violent towards her if she did not comply.

The court was told by RSPCA prosecutor John Wyatt that the incident took place on or around September 20 last year, when the defendants were at a friend’s house in Roseway.

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The friend owned a female cat who already had two or three litters of kittens, when a litter of four was delivered in late August.

The court heard Swinscoe and Williams told police they had thought the cats were not being cared for properly, and decided to be ‘cruel to be kind’, by taking them into a back room and drowning them in a basin.

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The bodies were then dumped under a bridge by a footpath. The court heard the defendants had admitted the kittens wriggled as they died, and heard a statement from a vet saying the animals would have suffered. Swinscoe later described the incident to another friend, who alerted the RSPCA.

The court also heard that when the kittens’ owner was interviewed, he said he had been making arrangements to rehome them, and thought they were ‘doing all right’.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Katharine Todd told the court that, at the time of the offence, Swinscoe and Williams were in a relationship, during which Swinscoe had regularly been beaten up by Williams.

She said the relationship had now ended, and Williams was now facing charges of assaulting Swinscoe, who was living in a women’s refuge.

Ms Todd said Swinscoe had not wanted to kill the kittens, but felt not doing so would be far worse for her, and had been told by Williams what to say in police interviews.

For causing suffering to protected animals, and failing in a duty to ensure the welfare of animals, magistrates sentenced Swinscoe to a total of 18 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and banned her from owning an animal for three years.

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