Rabbit killers plead guilty to torturing stolen pet to death

(l-r) Frank Hudson, one of the unidentified youths, and Martin Bell

(l-r) Frank Hudson, one of the unidentified youths, and Martin Bell

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THE owners of a rabbit which was snatched and killed say the four should face jail after they pleaded guilty to causing its death.

Martin John Bell, Frank Hudson and two 17-year-olds who cannot be named, all admitted causing unnecessary suffering to white lion head rabbit Percy.

One of the youths also admitted stealing the animal from its hutch of its home in Embleton Mews, Dawdon, on June 28.

Percy had given birth just days before she was snatched, All five babies have since died without their mother.

Rebecca Atkinson said the attack still had a devastating affect.

She has been treated for pancreatitis, partly brought on by stress, while daughter Jessica Lennox, 14, has told Rebecca and husband Anthony she “never wants to have another year like it.”

Rebecca, who is also mum to Brynn, four, said: “I’m glad they pleaded guilty and I hope they get a custodial sentence.

“A lot of people have been stopping us in the street and can’t believe they have done something like that.”

The court heard the charge of suffering related to being in a bath with the rabbit, shaving it and then throwing it out of window before killing it.

The allegation previously detailed they had attempted to “drown it”, but at the hearing at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court yesterday, prosecutor Paula Sanderson asked for those words to be removed from the charge.

No further details were given by the prosecution, but Mike Simpson, who represented all four defendants, said it would mitigate at length for each at their next hearings.

Hudson, 19, of Evesham Road, Eastlea, and Bell, 20, of Parkside Crescent, Parkside, both Seaham, were released on conditional bail until Friday, October 3, when they will be sentenced.

The 17-year-olds were told to attend a youth court at Newton Aycliffe on Monday October 6 for their sentence.

The Sunderland Echo applied for restrictions banning their names from being published to be lifted, but the bench turned down the application on the grounds that it would be a punishment if their identities were known and put them at risk of harm.

The prosecution stated it would put them at risk of vigilantes, with Mr Simpson also setting out they would be at risk.