Jail for serviceman who cut dog's throat

AN AMERICAN serviceman who savagely ripped his dog's throat apart with a military knife has been sentenced to 18 weeks in prison and banned from keeping animals for life.

AN AMERICAN serviceman who savagely ripped his dog's throat apart with a military knife has been sentenced to 18 weeks in prison and banned from keeping animals for life.

Dustin Yandell, from RAF Lakenheath, put his golden retriever, Goldie, in the bath tub before slitting its throat from one side to the other, causing the animal to suffer “severe pain and distress” in the moments leading up to its death.

Speaking after the hearing at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court yesterday, RSPCA Chief Inspector Mark Thompson said it was one of the worst cases of animal abuse he had ever seen.

“This was a very, very serious act of premeditated, wanton cruelty,” he said.


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“Mr Yandell knew what he was going to do. He took the dog upstairs on a lead, put it into the bath, sat with it for a moment and then slashed its throat.

“The animal's suffering would have been untold in the few minutes while it was dying.”

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Yandell, 21, who served in the Iraq war as a combat medic, initially denied the offence, but later admitted killing the animal at his home in Mill Reef Close, Newmarket, in March this year.

He said in a police interview: “I do not know what was going through my mind at the time. I put the knife in the dog's throat, and it went from right to left.

“The next thing I remember was cleaning the bath and putting the dog in the trash bin.”

The bin containing the golden retriever was found by a Forest Heath District Council refuse collector, who was left “extremely upset and distressed” by the gruesome discovery, which he made on March 28.

Yandell, originally from Maryland in the US, admitted the killing could possibly have been carried out to get back at his wife, who had called him from America to say she would not be returning home and that he would not see their son again.

Defence solicitor, Jeremy Kendall, told the court Yandell had suffered a number of traumas, including the stillbirth of his second child in April last year.

“This was a one-off offence,” he said. “He is still a very young man who has out-of-the-blue committed this savage act.”

Mr Kendall said Yandell would undoubtedly be discharged from the USAF as a result of his conviction.

Chairman of the bench, Colin Reeve, said: “We are dealing with one very serious matter of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

“We consider this matter is so serious that no other sentencing is appropriate.”

RAF Lakenheath spokesman, First Lt Aaron Henninger, said an investigation would now be launched to determine Yandell's future at the airbase.

He said: “Any incident of animal abuse, whether it is claimed or proven, is taken seriously, and every serviceman is held accountable for what they do.

“We will now take a look at the situation and an administrative decision will be taken.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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