Jail sentence for man who tortured hamster

RSPCA cruelty - Mr Chow.
RSPCA cruelty - Mr Chow.

A man who tortured a pet hamster by giving it a fizzy drink laced with drugs has been sent to prison for eight weeks.

Corey Lee Salvatore Destrow admitted causing the hamster to be given cannabis and LSD at a house in Heysham that was covered in animal faeces and stank of urine.

Destrow, 22, of Brock Close, Lancaster, looked on in horror as magistrates said he would have to serve a jail sentence.

Philip Clayton, leading magistrate for the trial at Lancaster Magistrates Court, said the public would be satisfied to see Destrow sent to prison to act as a deterrent to others.

Destrow was himself high on a cocktail of drink and drugs as the hamster chewed on a cannabis leaf and drank Tizer laced with a hallucinogenic drug.

Magistrates reached their verdict after watching a video filmed on a phone seized by police from a house in Heysham.

This showed the defendant and another man laughing as the hamster – who they nicknamed ‘Mr Chow’ – was given the drugs.

The pair could be heard saying “We are going to kill it” and “it is going nuts.”

Police found the hamster in its cage inside a cupboard during a raid on the house in Kingsway in May 2016.

“You were a man of previous good character, taking into consideration the probation report, you show genuine remorse and are over 
drink and drugs,” said Mr Clayton.

“However when the bench looked properly regarding the definition of ‘torture’ we feel that definition is unfortunately what was going on in that video we saw of two people torturing a defenceless caged animal.”

Destrow’s co-defendant, Luke Gabriel Horn, will serve a community order for 18 months after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a Mastiff Brindle dog called Troy by failing to investigate and treat the causes of his poor body condition, and failing to provide a suitable environment for Troy.

Troy weighed just 25kg when he was discovered chained to a radiator in a bedroom covered in animal faeces at Horn’s home.

Four dogs were at the Kingsway premises, three of which – including Troy – were emaciated.

Horn has since given up ownership of Troy and was not involved in the hamster incident. All animals were handed to the RSPCA and have been rehomed.

John Batty, defending, and Donna Thompson, probation officer at the Crown Prosecution Service, said Destrow and Horn were genuinely remorseful and the case has been a real “awakening” for them. Mr Batty also said the defendants and their families, including Destrow’s mother who has recently undergone a heart operation, were the subject of threats on social media since their first court appearance in December.

David Hardy, prosecuting, said: “Both defendants were responsible in different ways for their immaturity and inability to properly care for animals.”

Horn will carry out 250 hours of unpaid work, pay £380 costs and has also been banned from keeping dogs for five years. Destrow will serve eight weeks in prison, pay £415 costs and has also been banned from keeping any kind of animal for 10 years. Both had pleaded guilty at a hearing on December 19.

A third co-defendant, a 22-year-old man from Lancaster, also faces charges of causing cannabis and LSD to be given to the hamster, and also causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs by failing to provide veterinary care and attention for their facial and head injuries, and failing to provide three dogs with a suitable environment.

He will appear at Lancaster Magistrates Court on January 16.