A MAN who killed and dismembered his pet dog told police he believed she had been possessed by an evil spirit during a seance, a court heard.

Paul Carroll who drowned Molly, a Bedlington Terrier, initially told officers a fatal spell had been placed upon her during a Christmas Eve Ouija board session to contact the dead.

Magistrates heard the 51-year-old - whose solicitor said had severe learning difficulties and mental health problems - later admitted chopping her body into pieces and disposing of them down a drain.

Blair Martin, prosecuting, said the alarm was raised when a company was called in to unblock the drains at the property in Leadgate, County Durham, where he was living at the time.

“When initially interviewed by police the defendant said the dog had died while he and his wife were using a Ouija board to contact dead spirits," he added.

“He said a bad spirit had entered the dog and it died.”

During a second police interview Carroll, now of South Moor, near Stanley, admitted drowning Molly in a bath.

He said he tried to dispose of her body in a ditch near the Hat and Feather pub, near Medomsley, but it was too shallow.

Mr Martin said: “The dog could still be seen, so he took the body and cut into the dog to try to remove the microchip so it could not be identified.

“He could not find it so he chopped the body into several pieces and disposed of them in the drain at the back of the property.

“A drainage company was called when it started to overflow.”

Mr Martin said neighbours told police he had owned the dog about a year after taking it from a relative, but it had not got on with his other pets.

Carroll admitted one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between December 15 and Christmas Eve.

David Malone, mitigating, said: “He has severe learning difficulties and mental health issues.

“He is 51 years of age, has no previous convictions and has never been involved with social services before.”

Carroll was granted conditional bail by Consett magistrates until February 24 when he will be sentenced following the preparation of reports.

Chairman of the bench Kevin Radford said: “We cannot proceed with your case today. We need to hear more about you. We are adjourning proceedings to enable reports to be prepared to help the next bench when you come back.”

Clair Johnston from the County Durham Bedlington Terrier Rescue and Rehoming Group, based in Sedgefield, said Molly should have been taken to a rescue centre.

“I am shocked and disgusted by the fact he drowned it in the bath and disposed of it himself.

“There is no excuse for it, mental health issues or not. There is always another option and there is always charities that can help.”

“We would have taken the dog straight away and re-homed it or put it in a foster home.”

Pam Garbutt, of The Bedlington Terrier Association, said the group had people all over the country who could have helped.

She said: “There is no excuse for not being to re-home one. It is quite shocking really.”