Pilot stole and drowned neighbour’s dog after it wouldn’t stop barking
A commercial airline pilot stole his neighbour’s dog before DROWNING it and dumping it in a hedgerow – because it wouldn’t stop barking.
Twisted Stephen Woodhouse, 52, reached into Alison and Alan Boddington’s garden, in Long Buckby, Northants, to steal their 10-year-old Border Terrier, Meg – before drowning her.
Corby Magistrates Court heard that Woodhouse had pretended to Meg’s devastated owners that he had no idea where she was when she went missing in July last year.
But he had snatched her and held her head in a bucket of water in his back garden before shoving her body in a bin bag and dumping it in a hedgerow – before later returning to the body to try to cut a chip out of the dog’s neck.
It was only when Mrs Boddington found Meg’s fur and a rope in the boot of Woodhouse’s car, he was forced to admit that he had killed the dog.
The court heard that the Boddingtons had bought Meg in 2007 as a companion for their seriously ill daughter, Lauren, who passed away in 2009.
The dog was kept by the family as a reminder of their late daughter, and was often outside in the garden with the family’s other dog, Gemma.
Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Kevin McCole said: “On July 26, at about 12.30, Mrs Boddington realised that Meg was gone from the garden and spent a few hours looking for her.
“She approached Woodhouse as he was in his paddock, and he denied that he had seen Meg at that time.
“Mrs Boddington had her suspicions raised by his reaction, and she went back to see him without success.
“On one occassion, she opened the boot of his car and found dog hair and a rope, and then the police became involved.
“Woodhouse implied to the police that shortly after he had moved in, there was a problem with the neighbour’s dog, it was always in the garden yapping and yapping.
“On the morning of July 26, he said he and his wife were in the garden, cutting the grass.
“In a statement, he told police: ‘I reached my wits’ end. All I could think of was that the noise had to stop. It was driving me bloody mad. So I walked across my paddock, up to their fence, and the dog was about five metres away.
“All I had to do was whistle and it trotted over. When it got to the fence, I picked it up and walked back across my paddock.
“There was some building work being done and a big bucket of water so I stuck it in the bucket until it stopped moving. I never thought of the consequences.’
Mr McCole added: “He then took the dog out of the bucket and put it in a black binbag which he then put in the shed.”
Woodhouse drove to Buckby Wharf and threw the bag in a hedgerow. Later that week he decided to dispose of it elsewhere, so he drove back to the hedgreow and tried to find somewhere else to put it.
He told police: “I’d been told that the dog had a chip so I took a craft knife to try to remove it and I cut the back of the dead dog’s neck open.
“In hindsight, I needn’t have bothered. I couldn’t find anywhere to put the dog so I drove to Ashby St Ledgers and disposed of it in another hedgerow.
“I can’t believe I have caused a nice family so much suffering and grief.”
Corby Magistrates Court heard that a police officer had visisted Woodhouse and he told him that he’d picked up the dog the night before and it was now in his back garden.
He told police that he had drowned the dog for a minute or a minute and a half.
Defending, Sara-Lise Hawe said: “This is a dog that barked from morning until night, and a year before my client had had a heart attack, and spent time off work trying to recuperate.
“He found it impossible to be in his garden. Mr Woodhouse is not a man who likes to complain but he had spoken to the council and he was at his wits’ end.
“It was a momentary lapse of sanity with long term consequences that left a village divided.”
Sentencing, Magistrate Jane Eayrs said: “We’ve taken a great deal of time to consider this case, around which there is a great deal of emotion.
“You took the law into your own hands and killed your neighbour’s dog, when you have persisted in speaking to the local authority.”
Woodhouse was sentenced to 12 weeks’ impisonment, suspended for two years. He was also told to pay £2400 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.