Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 8 March 2012

"A man's soul can be judged by the way he treats his dog."

The diverse unpleasant doings of the underclass have long been the preserve of the indefatigable JuliaM, whose blog is well-equipped with labels for their various nefarious antics.

That said, occasionally a story comes along that prompts even the more reticent among us to comment.

Remember the prison van that made a 96-mile trip in order to transport a suspect 60 yards because, it was claimed, to walk from the police station to the magistrates court next door in handcuffs would 'breach his human rights'?

Naturally the song-and-dance over avoiding the 60-yard walk to court attracted far more attention than the walk itself could ever have done, and, in any case, turned out to be something of a red herring; it was the security contractor who chose to send the van - at public expense - citing human rights as justification*.

The charges against the suspect at that initial appearance were described only as a 'public order offence' - as opposed to his conditional discharge for shoplifting and the robbery charges he was facing in Oxford at the time:

The 27-year-old threatened to stab student Emma-Jane Pring if she didn’t hand over money. Thomas, who has 19 previous convictions for 30 offences, admitted attempted robbery.

Judge Corrie said: “You don’t seem to feel any shame... you have been smiling throughout the proceedings.”

The case in Banbury has finally been heard - the 60-yard van journey having resulted in a plea of 'not guilty' - and, if you thought your opinion of him couldn't get any lower, think again.

Drunken Oliver Thomas tossed a neighbour’s pet dog out of a third floor window because he was angry with it, magistrates heard yesterday. The Bichon Frise died in pain after plunging more than 50 feet.

Actually, the headline is not quite accurate; according to the article, Thomas grabbed the dog, walked to the open window and held the struggling animal outside for several seconds before letting go. The only statement offered in mitigation was that he was so drunk he did not know what he was doing and now feels remorse, which suggests even his defence team were struggling with this one.

I'd hate to be putting ideas into their heads, but it strikes me that Thomas, like Karen Matthews, suffers from an almost pathological lack of maturity. His attack on the dog was the unthinking cruelty of an angry child, while his many and varied previous crimes - including assault and damaging a car - suggest infantile levels of reasoning and self-control.

There's something childish, too, in his denial of 'causing unnecessary suffering'. Despite the evidence of the dog's owner and another witness, Thomas initially claimed the dog had slipped out of the fanlight window, only changing his story when he was confronted with overwhelming testimony - or 'found out', as he probably sees it.

Thomas (now with 20 previous convictions for 31 offences) has been jailed for 18 weeks - I can hear Julia sighing from here - which, even allowing for early release, should at least give him time to find out how his fellow-inmates feel about cruelty to small, fluffy dogs; I understand even the most hardened criminals have a sentimental side.

Oh, and the attempted robbery last year? That got him a suspended sentence. Sorry, Julia!

*Even the prisoner thought it was ridiculous: "surely they could have just walked me there in handcuffs".


  1. Is involuntary euthanasia on the table for such as him?

  2. There was a piece in the Wail today about how a bad 'un might be spotted at the age of two, allowing something to done. Given what many two year old's are like that could be a very large figure.

  3. "Oh, and the attempted robbery last year? That got him a suspended sentence."

    I guess we are a nation of animal lovers after all! ;)