£1,000 fine after rabbit starved

a MAN must pay £1,000 costs after a rabbit was found starved to death behind a Belper house.

Daniel Peat must also obey a curfew for 12 weeks and had a six-month prison term, suspended for a year, imposed on him.

At the magistrates’ court in Derby on Thursday, District Judge Caroline Goulborn told him: “Basically you let that animal starve to death. Evidence was brought and so was expert evidence but even then you were not prepared to accept responsibility.

Peat, of Maple Drive, Belper, must pay the RSPCA costs at £10 weekly. He had failed to attend an earlier hearing where magistrates found him guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to the rabbit named Randy between September 17 and 24 last year. A warrant had been issued for his arrest. After an application by the charity, he was banned for ten years from keeping pets, except dogs.

John Sutcliffe, prosecuting, said an RSPCA inspector visited a house on Nottingham Road, Belper, last year. Nobody came to the door although it appeared to be occupied. He went to the back garden and found the body of the rabbit in a wooden hutch. Its water bottle and food bowl were empty.

“It seemed the carcass was in a very thin condition,” he told the court. The inspector checked the rabbit’s body before taking it away. Mr Sutcliffe said: “The animal was a perfectly normal adult with teeth, eyes and ears clearly normal. There were no signs of abnormality and he could see nothing wrong with it.”

It was then taken to a vet who found it was only 63 per cent of its expected weight. The vet carried out a detailed examination. “It was felt the rabbit had died in the last 24 hours and essentially that it had starved to death and that it would have suffered up to seven days,” added Mr Sutcliffe.

Peat said he fed the animal and had last seen it alive on September 22, claiming “it had always been skinny.”

Asked what he felt about its suffering and Peat told the RSPCA: “Horrible, sick, just gutted.”