A man and woman who abused a dog for months before killing it and dumping its body by a river have avoided jail.
Chantelle Duvall-Gregory and Christy Carl-Hewitt put their dog through months of abuse before dumping it by the side of the River Mersey, but they had left one vital clue as to who had put it there. Duvall-Gregory, 20, had left her name printed on the side of the bright pink suitcase.
Liverpool Magistrates Court heard they punched, kicked, and stamped on their two-year-old Belgian Shepherd, Snoop, before it died after being given a granola bar which had raisins in. Its body was found locked inside the suitcase by a dog walker near the Speke and Garston Nature Reserve on January 11, 2022.
Prosecuting, Peter Mitchell said that Snoop had ‘extensive’ bruising and fractures to the ribs with it clear these injuries were ‘non-accidental’. They were determined to be six to eight weeks old before the dog was found as they had begun to heal.
It was found that Snoop had also been punched to the face, causing damage to his teeth, but it was not possible to determine which of the pair had caused the injuries. A youth witness previously told the court that they saw mum-of-one Duvall-Gregory once hit the dog so hard with a wooden spoon that it broke.
The abuse is said to have taken place between April 1 and December 22, 2021 at the couple’s former home on Winfield Road, Garston, Liverpool. The court heard it was determined Snoop had died of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis after eating a granola bar with raisins given to it by Duvall-Gregory.
Vicky Balenski, defending the pair, said Snoop had become ill and died on December 23, and Duvall-Gregory and Carl-Hewitt, 21, had called several vets to help the animal but no-one was available due to the proximity to Christmas. She also said the dog had already passed away before being put into the suitcase, and they were not trying to hide anything when disposing of the body.
She added that the pair claimed that Snoop would not eat dog food and that Duvall-Gregory thought she had removed the raisins from the bar before feeding it to him. Duvall-Gregory, of no fixed address, and Carl-Hewitt, 21, of Parkfield Road, Aigburth, both pleaded guilty to four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on November 28, 2022.
The pair pleaded guilty to inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and abusive behaviour on the Belgian Shepherd, to failing to provide an adequate diet, and to failing to take him to a vet when necessary. They also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching their duties as people responsible for ensuring the welfare of an animal.
District Judge James Hatton, sentencing, said: “For a lengthy period of time, this dog has been beaten and abused”. Addressing Duvall-Gregory, he said: “This is prolonged ill treatment and neglectful treatment of this animal and has resulted in its untimely death.
“It is abundantly clear that you beat that defenceless animal over a lengthy period of time.” He said they left injuries untreated which caused more suffering for the animal.
Judge Hatton sentenced Duvall-Gregory to 22 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months, ordered her to pay a £128 victim surcharge and £450 prosecution costs. Speaking to Carl-Hewitt, he said: “Much of what I have said to your co-defendant applies to you.”
He referred to the punching, kicking and stamping of the dog, and said it was your “default position to minimise your behaviour.” Carl-Hewitt is currently under a community order relating to a different charge that pre-dated these offences.
Carl-Hewitt was locked up for 22 weeks . Both were handed a 10 year disqualification from owning an animal, and cannot apply to appeal this for five years.