Hamster given cannabis and '˜acid' drugs at Heysham house

A man tortured a pet hamster by giving it a fizzy drink spiked with LSD.

Tuesday, 20th December 2016, 12:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:12 pm
The hamster was discovered by police in its cage inside a cupboard.

Corey Lee Destrow was himself high on a cocktail of drink and drugs as the hamster chewed on cannabis leaf and drank Tizer laced with the hallucinogenic drug known as ‘acid’.

Destrow pleaded guilty to causing the hamster to be given cannabis and LSD at a house in Heysham that was covered in animal faeces and stank of urine.

Three dogs were also seized from the Kingsway property – one a mastiff so malnourished officers could see its ribcage.

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The hamster known as 'Mr Chow'.

Destrow, 22, bowed his head in court as magistrates watched a video filmed on a phone seized by police from the house.

This showed the defendant and another man laughing as the hamster – who they nicknamed ‘Mr Chow’ – ate cannabis leaf and drank fizzy Tizer laced with the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

Elizabeth Paterson, head of the bench, told Destrow: “We think that amounted to 
torture of a defenceless animal who was completely dependent on the humans who were there for food, water, care and protection.

“We think you knew what was going to happen when you said ‘it’s going to explode’ and ‘you’re going to kill it’. Fortunately it survived. You were on drugs, high at the time of the incident.”

Troy, a Mastiff type dog, weighed under four stone when he was found.

Magistrates said all sentencing options were still open.

Destrow, of York Road in Lancaster, admitted charges of causing cannabis to be given to a hamster and causing LSD to be given to a hamster.

Police found the hamster in its cage inside a cupboard during a raid on the house in Kingsway in May 2016. The animal had no water.

When Destrow was interviewed by the RSPCA he said he denied giving the hamster cannabis and didn’t remember giving Tizer to the hamster as he’d been drinking. He said he knew “it was totally wrong”.

The house where the animals were found was covered in faeces and urine.

Destrow’s co-defendant, Luke Gabriel Horn, 22, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a Mastiff type dog called Troy by failing to investigate and treat the causes of his poor body condition, and failing to provide a suitable environment for Troy.

David Hardy, prosecuting, told Lancaster Magistrates Court that when police raided Horn’s house in Kingsway, Heysham, in May 2016 they discovered conditions described as “dark and filthy”.

Officers found a large amount of dog faeces in the house and in garden – much of which looked like it had been there for some time.

Four dogs were at the premises, three of which – including Troy – were emaciated. Troy was being kept in a bedroom which had a strong smell of urine and faeces.

The hamster known as 'Mr Chow'.

His coat was covered in sores, he weighed 25kg (just under four stone) and his ribs were visible. The other two dogs were also badly malnourished.

When interviewed by the RSPCA, Horn admitted the conditions were “terrible” and “it was no way to live”.

Horn has since given up ownership of Troy. He was not involved in the hamster incident.

John Batty, defending, said this was “an unusual case” and had never come across anything like it before. He said both Destrow and Horn were “extremely embarrassed”.

“Their difficulties come from getting involved in the abuse of cannabis in spring 2016,” said Mr Batty. “Mr Horn acknowledges he was letting the dog down.”

Mr Batty said Destrow had been living with Horn for some time but went back to live with his mother. But then on May 7 2016 he fell out with his mum and went back to Horn’s home.

Troy, a Mastiff type dog, weighed under four stone when he was found.

“He has no recollection of the video and can’t believe he would allow it to happen,” he said. “He is an animal lover. He is relieved all the animals have fully recovered.”

The hamster has now been rehomed.

Destrow and Horn will return to court for sentencing on January 9. A third co-defendant, a 22-year-old man from Lancaster, also faces charges of causing cannabis and LSD to be given to the hamster, and also causing unnecessary suffering to two Mastiff type dogs by failing to investigate and treat the causes of poor body condition, causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs by failing to provide veterinary care and attention for their facial and head injuries, and failing to provide three dogs with a suitable environment. His case was adjourned to allow his defence more time to prepare and will be heard at Lancaster Magistrates Court on January 16.

The house where the animals were found was covered in faeces and urine.