A MAN who drowned and dismembered a pet dog because he believed it possessed following a family ouija board session has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Magistrates sentenced 51-year-old Paul Carroll to 18 weeks custody, but suspended the term for 12 months.

He has been banned from keeping animals for ten years and will be subject to one year of supervision by the Probation Service.

Consett Magistrates Court heard he killed Molly, his family’s Bedlington Terrier, believing it had become possessed by evil spirits following a séance.

Carroll initially tried to hide the body in a ditch near the Hat and Feather pub on the outskirts of Consett and in some bushes.

He retrieved the dog fearing an implanted microchip could reveal his crime, cut up her body and put in the drain near his home on First Street in Bradley Bungalows, near Leadgate.

Police became involved after he and his family confessed to a neighbour who had asked about Molly’s welfare, having initially told her she had been rehomed.

Blair Martin, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was asked about the allegation.

“He told police that the dog had been possessed by an evil spirit while the family had been using a ouija board.

“He said he had a séance and a spirit had put a spell on the dog.

“He described how he cut up the dog with a knife and put it down the drain at the back of the family home.”

RSPCA inspectors and police removed a further three dogs and a snake from the house, which was littered with excrement, once the investigation was launched in January.

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

The court heard Carroll is considered ‘vulnerable’ and is now living with his mother in South Moor, near Stanley.

David Malone, mitigating, said: “He was extremely candid in interview. Mr Carroll said at the outset that he understood what he did was wrong.”

Carroll will also have to pay a total of £165 in court costs, which will be deducted from his benefits.

He was warned he will be jailed if he appears in court again in the next year.

Chairwoman of the magistrates’ bench Anita Atkinson said: “We believe it is so serious as to warrant a custodial sentence.

“We accept that you are vulnerable and have problems. We have given you a prison sentence, but you are not going to go to prison today.

“We are putting you on good behaviour.”