Airline pilot who drowned neighbour’s dog ‘because he wanted it to stop barking’ given suspended prison sentence

An airline pilot who drowned his neighbour’s dog in a moment of madness to stop its barking has been handed a 12-week suspended prison sentence.

By Paul Lynch
Wednesday, 20th May 2015, 3:00 pm

Stephen Woodhouse,53, of Long Buckby, had admitted using a water butt in his garden to kill border terrier Meg on Saturday, July 26 last year at an earlier hearing.

The pet had originally been bought by the Boddington family for their seriously ill daughter Lauren, who passed away shortly after her tenth birthday in 2008.

Woodhouse was sentenced at Corby Magistrates Court today for a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, under the Animal Welfare Act.

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Sentencing him, presiding magistrate Miss J Eayrs said: “You took the law into your own hands and drowned your neighbour’s dog.

“It’s obvious to this court that the suffering you inflicted on this dog was such that it caused the dog to drown,” she said.

Outlining the case against Woodhouse, RSPCA prosecutor Kevin McCole said Woodhouse, a Flybe pilot, had been concerned with Meg’s barking for some months and had contacted the council before over the matter.

Around 12.30pm on Saturday July 26 the Boddington family were concerned as to the Meg’s whereabouts. They launched a search party and even asked Woodhouse whether he had seen the dog- which he denied.

Mr McCole said Woodhouse had in fact reached over the Boddington family’s fence earlier in the day and picked the dog up ‘by the scruff if its neck’.

“‘I just reached my hands down,’ he told the police in interview. ‘it was an act if stupidity, of desperation I suppose. ‘I just had to stop the noise’.”

Mr McCole read extracts from Woodhouse’s police interview.

He told police: “I just stuffed it into the bucket of water and I held it there until it stopped moving.

“I never thought about the consequences.”

Woodhouse had attempted to dump the body of the dog on three occasions afterwards.

He had first intended to dispose of the animal by a hedge row in Long Buckby Wharf and later considered areas around Birmingham airport and Ashby St Ledgers.

But realising the dog may have been microchipped, he did not go through with it.

He instead made attempts to remove the chip with a knife, with no success.

Police visited Woodhouse at home on the following Monday, after Alison Boddington had noticed ‘dog hairs’ inside the pilot’s boot and informed police.

During that Monday visit, Woodhouse admitted what he had done and the body was recovered from the house.

In mitigation Sara-Lise Howe said that Woodhouse had become distressed by the dog’s barking, and had suffered a heart attack a year earlier.

“He had no idea how it happened,” she said. “He just lost his wits. He just wanted the dog to stop it.

“It is clear that it was a momentary lack of sanity because there was no animosity between the families.”

Miss Howe said the incident had ‘divided’ the village of Long Buckby and added that the last year had been a ‘living hell’ for the pilot.

She also said Woodhouse had since been pronounced as fit to work following psyciatric assessments.

He was ordered to pay costs of £2,400 and a victim surcharge of £180.