Cat cruelty couple are spared jail

Keith Peters and Riann Rice, right, pictured outside Wigan Magistrates court
Keith Peters and Riann Rice, right, pictured outside Wigan Magistrates court

A WIGAN couple have avoided jail after leaving their pet kitten in agony with multiple injuries - one expert speculated that the cat, Skittles, had been swung round by her back legs and smashed against something solid.

Wigan and Leigh magistrates heard that the pet had suffered a shattered skull, neck, ribs, pelvis and foreleg leaving her unable to stand.

Keith Peters and Riaan Michelle Victoria Rice – who have now separated – pleaded guilty to a total of six charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal at their former home in Woolton Close, Ashton, last summer.

At an earlier hearing the presiding magistrate warned: “We are considering a custodial sentence.”

But after reading an all options probation report the bench last night ordered the unemployed pair to complete 140 hours community punishment, banning them from keeping animals for five years.

They must each pay a £250 fine but vets’ fees of £1,540 will be paid from central funds.

Tony Stock, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said that Inspector Louise Showering called at the home one evening after receiving a phone call from a neighbour concerned about eight month old Skittles, which Peters and Rice had since being six weeks old.

She found the cat collapsed and lying on its side in what appeared to be in a “state of shock” and visibly unable to stand with one leg held out rigid.

In interview the couple denied knowing how the cat had sustained such serious injuries. But speculated that it may have hurt itself jumping from an upper window in their conservatory.

However, an expert from the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science, vet David Martin, said in a statement that the injuries had been caused by a none-accidental physical trauma.

He said: “The injuries could not possibly have been caused by the cat jumping or falling. In my view it has been swung around by its back hind leg against something solid.

“There is no doubt that the cat was suffering a high level of pain and in failing to have the animal properly treated by veterinary surgeons its suffering was cruelly and unnecessarily prolonged.”

Skittles was X-rayed and the plates revealed that she had sustained a fractured skull and a broken neck.

More scans during the post-mortem examination showed that Skittles had a dislocated and fractured right hind foreleg which it had been carrying for at least a week, a broken pelvis and fractured ribs.

Mr Stock decided to offer no evidence at an earlier hearing to a charge against Peters, which he had denied, of using blunt force trauma and physical violence against the pet which had resulted in its fractured skull and neck.

Bob Toppin, defending 31-year-old mother of two Rice of Station Road, Ashton, said that she was “ashamed, even mortified” to find herself before the court after a previously unblemished record.

He insisted that apart from noticing that Skittles “had a limp,” she was unaware of her other injuries.

Mr Toppin said: “She is not responsible for causing the injuries to Skittles and the RSPCA can’t say who is.”

Undefended, Peters, 27, a jobless production operative who said he was living at a “care-of” address in Golborne Road, Ashton, said that all his family had pet animals and knew how to look after them.

He said: “What harm came to the cat I am very sorry for.

“Skittles was part of the family and what happened to her I am really and truly sorry for.

“I understand I should have taken the cat to the vets and I can say no more than I am very sorry.”