FOUR young men have appeared in court accused of torturing a pet rabbit before it was killed.

The four, who are aged 17 to 20, from Seaham, County Durham, are charged with causing unnecessary suffering to Percy, the white lionhead rabbit.

He was stolen from his hutch in nearby Dawdon and the men are said to have attempted to drown it in a bath, shave it and throw it from a window between June 26 and 29.

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The suspects were arrested and appeared before Peterlee Magistrates Court today (Thursday, August 28).

Ann Dawson, prosecuting, said: "This is a very unusual case and emotive matter of cruelty and killing of an animal."

Martin Bell, 20, of Parkside Crescent, Seaham, and Frank Hudson, 19, of Evesham Road, Seaham, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have all been charged with causing unnecessary suffering.

Another 17-year-old has also been charged with causing unnecessary suffering as well as theft of the rabbit.

Mike Simpson, who is representing all four defendants said no pleas were to be entered at this stage and asked for the case to be adjourned.

Magistrates agreed and proceedings will continue at the court on September 12.