A TEENAGER has been banned from owning animals after stabbing a pet bird to death during a "fit of rage".

Aaron Ray, 18, left the cockatiel with catastrophic injuries after plunging a knife into the back of its neck.

Officers found the deceased animal after attending an address in South Hylton, Sunderland, on the evening of January 11 this year following a report of a disturbance.

When quizzed by officers, Ray insisted “it’s just a bird, it’s not a crime”.

Ray, of Mayfield Road, Sunderland, has admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal when he appeared before magistrates in South Tyneside on June 11.

He returned to the same court, where he received a 12-week sentence suspended for one year. Ray was also handed a 15-year ban from owning animals.

PC Peter Baker, who works as a wildlife officer at Northumbria Police, said: “Aaron Ray showed a total disregard for the welfare of this bird and inflicted catastrophic injuries that it could not survive from.

“This kind of behaviour is not only reckless and upsetting, but a criminal offence – and that’s the lesson that Ray now must learn.

“We are a nation of animal lovers, so it is upsetting to come across incidents such as this where the defendant has caused inevitable and unnecessary suffering to an animal.

“I hope this conviction acts as a serious lesson to others – anybody who causes unnecessary suffering to an animal could face criminal action and a possible jail term.”

Anyone who witnesses cruelty or an animal in distress should contact the RSPCA direct or contact the police on 101.