A man has been sentenced to 22 weeks in jail after he and his partner abused their dog who died from ingesting toxic raisins and was then dumped in a suitcase by the River Mersey in Liverpool.
Christy Carl Hewitt and Chantell Duvall-Gregory were prosecuted by the RSPCA as a result of a press appeal, which was launched after the body of the Malinois, called Snoop, with blood around the nose and mouth was found locked in a pink suitcase placed under rocks at the Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve on January 11 last year (2022).
The suitcase was split due to the weight of the body inside and a member of the public who made the grisly discovery contacted the RSPCA.
Tests later revealed how the three-year-old dog was found to have suffered extensive bruising, fractures to his ribs and cracks to two of his teeth some six to eight weeks before his death, injuries which were consistent with the assaults an eye witness recounted seeing the pair inflict on him in Duvall-Gregory’s flat in Garston.
Many of those attacks were said to have been meted out as punishment for the dog’s toileting mistakes.
Snoop passed black, tarry faeces before he suffered a seizure and died on December 21, 2021. On the morning of his death, Duvall-Gregory said she had fed him a mixture of dog food and granola at her flat. A post-mortem later revealed that the cause of death was gastroenteritis as a result of being poisoned by raisins.
Hewitt, of Aigburth, and Duvall-Gregory, of no fixed abode, both pleaded guilty to jointly causing unnecessary suffering to Snoop by inflicting on him blunt force trauma, physical violence and abusive behaviour.
They admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dog by failing to seek veterinary treatment for his injuries and failing to provide an appropriate diet for the dog, while they also pleaded guilty to failing to meet the dog’s needs. The defendants appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on January 9 for sentencing.
Duvall-Gregory was handed a 22-week custodial sentence, which the magistrates suspended for 18 months. Both she and Hewitt were banned from owning any animal for 10 years.
The name Chantell was written on the side of the suitcase and investigating officer, inspector Anthony Joynes, said in a witness statement presented to the court that Duvall-Gregory contacted the charity herself after the press appeal, which included images of the case.
She said she tried unsuccessfully to get help for Snoop when he fell ill and claimed while she left the dog’s body in the suitcase, she did not throw him into the Mersey.
When the pair were interviewed, they admitted there had been “physical chastisement” of the dog, which involved slapping him on his flanks and bottom when they were frustrated about his toileting.
A statement from an eye witness said that when Snoop’s toileting behaviour annoyed the defendants he would be taken into a bedroom “by one or other of them and stood on repeatedly”.
On one occasion Hewitt was said to have pinned the dog by his neck to a chair and then punched him in the head because he had chewed one of his slippers. The witness also claimed Hewitt hit Snoop on the back of his neck with a spoon with such force that the implement broke.
The post-mortem found a number of raisins in Snoop’s stomach.
A vet’s expert report concluded the dog had not been provided with a suitable diet and died from gastroenteritis as “a consequence of raisin poisoning.”
It also stated that Snoop’s injuries were not accidental and that he had been repeatedly subjected to “significant blunt force trauma” over a prolonged period of time.
“It is clear both defendants were regularly using physical chastisement on Snoop and from the post-mortem it is clear that the amount of force used was grossly excessive. They described using minor physical punishments, but this was completely inconsistent with the findings, which are consistent with the dogs being forcefully hit or kicked,” said the vet.
In mitigation, the defendants claimed Snoop would not eat dog food and that Duvall-Gregory believed she had removed all the raisins in the granola before she fed it to her pet. She said she had tried to call several vets, but there were none available as it was near Christmas.
The magistrates also ordered Duvall-Gregory to complete 20 rehabilitation activity days as part of her sentence and they awarded costs of £450 against her and told her to also pay a victim surcharge of £128.
Speaking after the case, Inspector Joynes said, “Snoop was systematically beaten by these two defendants and the way they abused him is summed up in the callous manner in which they disposed of his body afterwards.
“Thankfully, as a result of our appeal we were able to identify and convict them. It shows the lengths we will go to investigate animal abuse like this and we thank the public for responding to our appeal in the media.”