A UNIVERSITY student has been banned from keeping animals after he fried a flatmate’s pet hamster in a “drunken moment of madness”.
James White, 21, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the female Syrian hamster and was told he had “destroyed his good character” after acquiring a criminal conviction.
However, Selby Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that the exact circumstances of what happened on the night that White was found by police with a dead hamster in a frying pan were shrouded in mystery.
Phil Brown, prosecuting, explained police were called to the York University politics and international relations student’s block of flats on February 4 last year and found him extremely drunk.
When the police went into the flat there was a “strong and pungent smell” and a frying pan next to the hob with a hamster in it. According to the prosecutor, White told the officer: “What, I f****** fried it? I fried it.”
When he was arrested and taken to a police station he exhibited “some of the most bizarre behaviour” the officers had ever seen, including giving his name as “1, 2, 3, 4”.
The court heard the hamster, which belonged to White’s flatmate, died from heart failure.
Kevin Blount, defending, told the court there was “no deliberate intent”, and added: “It was drunken foolishness that had tragic consequences for the hamster.”
District Judge Anderson admitted what happened on that night was “still shrouded in mystery”, but stressed White had “drunk to the point of madness”.
The judge added: “By virtue of your treatment of this small, unfortunate rodent you’ve destroyed your good character and acquired a criminal conviction.
“It’s accepted now that there was rough handling of that animal but that it couldn’t be established that it was putting it in the frying pan and applying heat that caused its death. Had that sadistic conduct been established I would be dealing with you in a far more serious way than I am.”
White, who changed his plea on the day of his trial, was banned from keeping animals for eight years, told to undertake 120 hours of unpaid community work and ordered to pay £1,000 towards the costs of the case. The district judge was told the investigation and legal costs came to £3,356.
Speaking after the hearing, RSPCA inspector Claire Mitchell said the case was the first of its kind she had dealt with, and added: “I’ve heard of animals being put into microwaves but never come across this before.
“It’s a very unusual case and I don’t know any other people who would think of doing that when drunk. It seems a very extreme act.”