A COUPLE have condemned the “callous” act of the neighbour who shot their cats with an air rifle.
Stephen Wilcockson, 48, of Oak Road, Stamford, was found guilty of shooting two cats belonging to Paul and Linda Fowler at Spalding Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
He was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community, given a five-year order banning him from keeping pets and told to pay £1,500 costs. The court also ordered the destruction of his air rifle.
Speaking after the trial, the couple said they were satisfied with the sentence.
Mr Fowler said: “At the moment we are feeling emotionally drained. We mainly feel relieved that he was found guilty.
“It was an extremely cruel and callous act and it is beyond belief that someone would use that method to get animals out of their garden. It shouldn’t be tolerated in a decent society.”
Wilcockson was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal after shooting the Fowlers’ cats, Maisie and Millie, with an air rifle on three separate occasions between April 2 and May 29.
The couple initially thought the puncture wounds they found on Maisie had been caused by her catching a loose nail. But their suspicions were aroused when Millie was also injured.
Vet David Cawte at Stamford Veterinary Centre in Main Street, Great Casterton, X-rayed the cats and found pellets lodged inside them.
He called the police and officers went with the RSPCA to Wilcockson’s home and seized his air rifle. Forensic tests matched the pellets to the gun.
Wilcockson admitted shooting the cats, but said he had not done so deliberately and had been firing at night in a bid to deal with a rat problem at his house.
Speaking after the case RSPCA inspector Andy Bostock said: “The RSPCA is contacted all the time about people whose cats have been shot, but in many cases it is hard to pursue them further because of a lack of evidence.
“However in this case we were able to gather enough evidence to show that Mr Wilcockson had shot the two cats deliberately and the court recognised the seriousness of the offence.
“We are aware that there are people who are not keen on cats, but there are so many safe deterrents out there which people can use to prevent cats coming on to their property – they should never resort to using illegal methods or those which have the potential to cause suffering.
“As this case shows, we will take action against people if they are found to be deliberately trying to harm cats.”
The Fowlers thanked the RSPCA for its support in the run-up to the trial.
Mr Folwer said: “A lot of people don’t like cats but there are other more humane ways to keep them out.”