Tristian Pearson: man gets suspended jail term for targeting his neighbours’ cats with poisoned tuna

Tristian Pearson left out tubs containing tuna and ethylene glycol in his garden

A man has admitted poisoning his neighbourscats - with both dying shortly after.

Tristian Paul Pearson, 44, left out poisoned tuna in his garden “deliberately” tempting the cats to consume it.

As well as tuna they contained a high concentration of ethylene glycol - which is highly poisonous to cats.

The RSPCA say it the first such case to be referred in this way, following the coming into force of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 last year demonstrating the seriousness of the offence.

Pearson, of Bargoed, Wales, pleaded guilty to an Animal Welfare Act offence and was handed an eight month suspended prison sentence.

His actions were discovered after the owners of the cats searched his garden after their deaths.

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Cats Luna and Bailey both died after eating poisoned tuna.

Pots found with tuna and blue liquid in Pearson’s garden

Luna and Bailey died shortly after the poisonings took place in early September 2021, when within a week of each other they returned home appearing very unwell.

Both cats seemed weak and wobbly on their legs, with male Persian Bailey dying before he could be seen by a vet.

Luna, who was later found to have kidney failure, had to be put to sleep by a vet to prevent her ongoing suffering.

At a hearing Cardiff Crown Court heard how following their deaths the cats’ devastated owners, a father and daughter who lived in two separate houses near Pearson’s home, began searching their neighbours’ gardens.

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When they looked into the rear garden of Pearson’s property they spotted two pots, one which contained a bright blue liquid and another that appeared to have tuna in it.

The pots were passed to the RSPCA and both were found to have a high concentration of ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance for cats.

An expert veterinary witness report concluded it was “very highly likely that this [the pots] was the source of ethylene glycol that caused the death of” Luna and Bailey.

The vet statement added that the “effects of ethylene glycol poisoning cause a cat to suffer via the mechanism of dehydration with subsequent headaches, nausea, disorientation, weakness and collapse”.

Pearson pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals and his eight-month prison sentence was suspended for 18 months.

He was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work, and disqualified from keeping all animals for a period of five years; a ban which he may not contest for at least four years.

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He was also ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.

Luna the cat.

‘We hope this shocking, landmark case sends a clear message’

Speaking after the hearing, RSPCA inspector Simon Evans, who investigated, said: “These poor cats were deliberately tempted into digesting a substance that is incredibly dangerous for cats and ultimately proved fatal to them both.

“One cat died before he could even be taken to the vets, while another had to be put to sleep to prevent suffering. Vets found clear evidence of the harm the ethylene glycol had done.

“The two dishes found in the defendant’s garden contained a high concentration of the dangerous substance - and he admitted in court that he caused them to consume it, causing them to suffer unnecessarily.

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“We hope this shocking, landmark case sends a clear message to anyone thinking of targeting cats in this way - this is wrong, illegal and will not be tolerated.”

The case had originally been heard at Cwmbran Magistrates Court, where Pearson pleaded guilty - but was referred to Cardiff Crown Court for sentencing.

The RSPCA believes this is the first such case to be referred in this way, following the coming into force of the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 last year; demonstrating the seriousness of the offence.

Previously, the maximum sentence a magistrate could hand down for animal welfare offences was six months in prison - however this was increased ten-fold to five years for certain Animal Welfare Act offences, and, under new guidelines, meant such animal cruelty crimes can now be heard in both magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court to reflect the new maximum penalty.

Hayley Firman of the RSPCA’s prosecutions department commented: “It’s good to see that the courts are applying the new legislation in a way it was intended”.

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RSPCA Cymru continues to remind cat owners of the symptoms of poisoning - and to know what to do if they fear their cat has been targeted.

Inspector Evans added: “This case reminds us that pet poisonings do happen. Some of the symptoms these poor cats showed are typical of being poisoned.

“Vomiting, a depressed or sleepy demeanour, appearing drunk or uncoordinated, seizures, and breathing difficulties could all be symptoms of a cat being poisoned.”

Bailey.