A Bexley pensioner who shot his neighbour's cat with an air rifle has been handed a suspended jail sentence and been banned from keeping pets.

Patrick Medford, 80, shot the female tabby called Ethel from a bedroom window, and the pellet was embedded in her intestines, leaving her in "excruciating" pain.

Ethel survived an operation to remove the pellet, but died from sepsis shortly after the incident last September.

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When an RSPCA visited Medford's home in Welling a few days late they found an air rifle in a bedroom overlooking the back garden which contained several cat scarers and an automatic sprinkler system used to scare off cats and foxes.

He was subsequently charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal under the Animal Welfare Act.

Medford pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 weeks in custody, suspended for two years, and disqualified from keeping all animals indefinitely.

He was also ordered to pay £600 in costs as well as £2,036 in compensation to the owner of Ethel when he was sentenced at Bexley Magistrates’ Court [on Monday June 21]

RSPCA Inspector Harriet Daliday, who investigated the incident, said: “I spoke to Ethel’s owner on the phone and she informed me that she believed her neighbour had shot her cat with an air rifle on September 29.

"The cat had undergone surgery and was recovering at the vets where the pellet had been extracted.

“At around 3.30pm, I arrived at the vets and spoke to the vet who handed me the extracted pellet sealed inside a biohazard waste bag and showed me photos of the cat during surgery and of the x-ray. Later that evening, I was informed that sadly the cat had died.

“The same day Ethel’s owner emailed me a list of chronological events leading up to the trip to the vet including having received three threatening emails from her neighbour, Mr Medford regarding the cat being in his garden.

“There was hearsay to suggest that Mr Medford was a holder of an air rifle and used to shoot pigeons.

"I was also sent CCTV footage which caught the noise of the shot on video at 4.51pm on September 29, and the neighbour can be seen in the footage looking towards the direction of the suspect’s address after hearing the noise.”

Inspector Daliday visited Medford at his address on October 6 where she was shown the rifle in the bedroom.

She advised police there was a rifle on site and asked if it could be seized in order to carry out a ballistics report on the gun and spent pellet.

The ballistics report from the police later stated that the pellet found inside Ethel was a match to the rifle seized from Medford.

Vet reports read to the the court stated that Ethel was in severe shock and severe abdominal pain when they examined her just two hours after she came home vomiting and clearly in pain.

The report added: “During this surgery four puncture wounds were found in her intestines where the pellet had penetrated.

"Two punctures were in her small intestine and two in her colon. Ethel recovered from the surgery however succumbed to sepsis related complications post op and died despite all our best efforts.”

Medford, in mitigation, claimed he did not intend to kill the cat.

Speaking after the prosecution, Inspector Daliday said: “This is a tragic case in which a cat was callously shot and sadly died.

"This would have caused poor Ethel suffering and also caused a lot of heartbreak for her owner who lost her much-loved pet."

She added: “Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as we would like.

"The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal as was the case with poor Ethel.”