English Student Arrested For Frying Roommate’s Pet Hamster

A case out of York, England could raise the question of whether inebriation is a defense to animal abuse. A 20-year-old student was arrested for allegedly frying the pet hamster of his roommate while drunk.

He was detained for being drunk and disorderly and later arrested on suspicion of a causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. We have often discussed how such horrific acts are often treated relatively lightly under criminal codes — particularly given the belief that someone capable of such cruelty to animals is likely a danger to society at large.

The question is whether inebriation is a defense to the crime. The government site states “Under section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is a summary offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal or if being responsible for a protected animal to permit any unnecessary suffering to be caused to any such animal (Stones 8-1571).” That sounds like a strict liability offense, but perhaps our English readers can tell us if there are defenses or whether there is a true scienter requirement of intent that may be denied by a defendant due to inebriation.

Here is the actual code language:

Unnecessary suffering

(1)A person commits an offence if—
(a)an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,
(b)he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,
(c)the animal is a protected animal, and
(d)the suffering is unnecessary.
(2)A person commits an offence if—
(a)he is responsible for an animal,
(b)an act, or failure to act, of another person causes the animal to suffer,
(c)he permitted that to happen or failed to take such steps (whether by way of supervising the other person or otherwise) as were reasonable in all the circumstances to prevent that happening, and
(d)the suffering is unnecessary.
(3)The considerations to which it is relevant to have regard when determining for the purposes of this section whether suffering is unnecessary include—
(a)whether the suffering could reasonably have been avoided or reduced;
(b)whether the conduct which caused the suffering was in compliance with any relevant enactment or any relevant provisions of a licence or code of practice issued under an enactment;
(c)whether the conduct which caused the suffering was for a legitimate purpose, such as—
(i)the purpose of benefiting the animal, or
(ii)the purpose of protecting a person, property or another animal;
(d)whether the suffering was proportionate to the purpose of the conduct concerned;
(e)whether the conduct concerned was in all the circumstances that of a reasonably competent and humane person.
(4)Nothing in this section applies to the destruction of an animal in an appropriate and humane manner.

This notably includes the element that he “knew, or ought reasonably to have know” about the quality of his act. That does not offer much for the defense, even if he could show that he was completely without any judgment or responsibility (often a weak claim in the best of circumstances).

What do your think the appropriate sentence should be if he is found guilty?

Source: AU News

18 thoughts on “English Student Arrested For Frying Roommate’s Pet Hamster”

  1. This is so disturbing. We write a lot about human rights violations but anyone who could maim, hurt, or kill an animal which is just as defenseless as a child, definitely needs to be segregated from society. ~ Ayanna Nahmias

  2. Unless that hamster forced the jerk to drink himself drunk, being drunk is no excuse or defense.

  3. The post ends with the question of what we think the sentence should be if he is found guilty. He needs an out of court settlement–of sorts. Someone needs to beat him to within six inches of his life and leave him in a heap on his mommy’s door step. It wont cure him but it will be an example to others. The court system could not cure him. A whippin will take some of the swagger out of his warped mind and dampen his attitudes.

    A real Cure for this rat requires some law enforcement reform:
    If a court gets ahold of him treat him like a pedophile. For these perps: No pets, cant be around pets, cant live near an animal clinic or kennel, put him on the petaphile registry and put his mug up on a website for all to view.

  4. Jail time for animal cruelty cases can be up to 51 weeks and there can be a fine too. The actual sentence and fine will obviously depend a lot on the magistrate who tries the case. I think though if a fine could exceed $3000 the case may transfer from magistrate to crown court. Fines can be upward of £20,000.

    This was a heinous act. I hope what ever happens he’s not laughing about it later. We live in the country where one tabloid published a story about a pop star biting the head off a hamster (probably untrue).

  5. In 12 B.C. the people of Megalopia made a concordate with the rats called : Rodente Or The Freeway when translated into English. The rats agreed not to chew on the religious objects or eat certain foods or bite people or domestic household animals whereby the humanoids agreed not to kill or abuse the rats. The gloves are off. That household will be fair game for any rodent or cousin of rodent. The rats will be bitten that guys feet when he sleeps.

  6. Roommate drama is universal, and usually revolves around cleaning. Split chores with http://upsees.com. My roommates and I have been using it for about a year and it keeps the peace really well.

  7. Woosty’s still a Cat,

    Absolutely correct. Thanks for making the point… Thanks for the link.

  8. Bette,

    You’re probably right…..But just in case….here is a nice rodent recipe…



    1 Hamster, quartered
    1 cup diced onion
    2 large tomatoes (from your garden) or 1 can of tomatoes
    Assorted fresh, or canned veggies

  9. Sentence? Eviction, and having to find a new place to live after explaining why he was kicked out of his previous digs.

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