A man who tied a dog to a stone before throwing it in a canal has been jailed for six months.
Daniel McPhillips was paid £20 to re-home the seven-year-old family pet, but instead he bound its legs with its own lead before launching it into the Forth and Clyde Canal.
The 26-year-old drug addict, who was labelled “repugnant” during his trial at Falkirk Sheriff Court, has also been banned from owning or keeping any kind of pet himself for five years.
Animal cruelty prevention charity the Scottish SPCA, which initially reported the case to the procurator fiscal, said McPhillips had caused his canine victim “unimaginable suffering”.
The incident took place after he had been asked by desperate mother-of-two Tammy Burgoyne to take the seven-year-old dog, King Charles Spaniel Alfie, to his local vet after her benefits had been cut.
The 43-year-old urged McPhillips to say that he’d found him, knowing the practice’s policy was to pass on strays to a local dog shelter where he would find a new home.
Ms Burgoyne told the court she could no longer afford to keep Alfie so she took the “heartbreaking” decision to let him go.
After dumping the pet McPhillips text her to say he had done what she had asked, but Alfie was never seen alive again.
A month later his body was fished out of the canal at Underwood Lock, near Allandale, Stirlingshire, by a lock-keeper, who told the court that at first thought it was the corpse of a dead badger.
When it turned out to be a dog, the lock-keeper, Douglas Wilson, 47, posted about the incident on Facebook and said that it was “one of the saddest sights I’ve come across”.
Tammy contacted SSPCA investigators after she saw the pictures and realised it was Alfie.
The court heard an inspector from the animal charity rang McPhillips to question him — and he hung up.
McPhillips was arrested after being questioned by an angry member of the public as they queued up in a local chemist.
The other man told the court he confronted McPhillips and said to him, “I think you killed Tammy’s dog”.
McPhillips responded: “What else was I supposed to do with it?”In a conversation overheard by the horrified pharmacist, he added: “Aye… I did it.”
The court heard when Alfie was found he still had Tammy’s retractable dog lead attached — it had been wrapped round his head, neck, throat and legs.
A post mortem revealed that some of the injuries caused by the lead were as a result of Alfie struggling under the water.
Injuries to his neck were “consistent with strangulation”, and there was evidence that he had been tied to a stone.
According to a pathologist, he may have drowned as well as been strangled.
After a summary trial earlier this month, McPhillips, of Denny, was found guilty of causing Alfie unnecessary suffering.
He had denied the charge, saying that Alfie had slipped his lead and run off as he walked him along the canalbank to the vet.
When McPhillips re-appeared on Wednesday for sentencing, his solicitor, Mark Fallon said his client now “regrets the harm he caused”.
Mr Fallon added: “He is addicted to crack cocaine, and the offence was committed having taken heroin and Valium.”
Sheriff Christopher Shead said it was a “grave contravention” of animal cruelty laws.
Imposing the six-month jail term he added: “The repugnant nature of this offence is such that a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal.”
McPhillips showed no emotion as he was led to the cells.
Outside court, Ms Burgoyne said: “It is such a relief. All I wanted was for the truth to come out and to get justice for Alfie. McPhillips deserves the jail.”
The Scottish SPCA described it as ” a truly shocking case of animal cruelty.”
An officer said: “Rather than taking Alfie to the vet, McPhillips instead decided to kill him and pocket the cash.
“It is hard to comprehend how tragic Alfie’s death was.
“As well as the trauma to his neck, he also had injuries to his front legs where he’d been trying to escape the bindings. Alfie was caused unimaginable unnecessary suffering due to the actions of McPhillips.”