A MAN has been jailed for stabbing a snake in the head with a screwdriver.

Michael McCann, 36, of Belgrave Terrace, South Shields, was due to appear before court on Friday for sentencing having been charged with one offence under the Animal Welfare Act after stabbing a 3ft-long boa constrictor in the head with a screwdriver.

The case was heard and proven in his absence on a previous date at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

RSPCA Inspector Rachael Hurst launched an investigation after being contacted about the incident at a multiple occupancy house for homeless residents in South Shields on 28 May 2020.

She said: “When I arrived at the property I was shown into the front porch by support workers and there was a snake in the corner which appeared deceased. There were also blood stains on the carpet.

“When I picked the snake up his jaw was embedded into the carpet which made it difficult to free. There was an open wound on the snake’s head and he appeared to be in poor body condition.”

After speaking to a number of staff and residents at the hostel, Inspector Hurst interviewed two men.

“No one seemed to own the snake or knew where he had come from but they believed he had been posted through the letterbox,” she said.

“He had been in the porch for a few days and nobody had mentioned it or attempted to move him.

“When one of the residents was leaving to go to the shop, the snake apparently bit him on the leg.

“He said that the following day he passed the snake again and when he hissed at him he hit him with a fire extinguisher and stabbed him in the head with a screwdriver.

“I removed a screwdriver from the scene and took the snake to a nearby vet for an examination and post mortem.”

The Northern Echo:

Vets established that the snake was in poor condition, underweight and showed evidence of poor skin shedding.

The RSPCA suspect the snake had either been neglected and then abandoned at the hostel or was an escaped pet that had been straying for some time.

The veterinary report concluded that ‘while the head and jaw were penetrated [by the screwdriver] no damage had been inflicted to the boney structures of the skull… brain or spinal cord’.

The vet added: “It is extremely unlikely that this impalement would have resulted in instantaneous death. If this wound was inflicted without further attention, and the snake left impaled to the floor, this would have resulted in pain, stress and suffering on the animal. This wound alone would not be expected to cause death without a significant time delay.”

Following the sentencing hearing, Inspector Hurst added: “This poor snake was already in a poor condition and was likely extremely frightened and confused. He needed help but, instead, was viciously attacked, seriously injured and left to die, as vets suspect, a long and slow death.

“It’s completely unacceptable to treat any animal in this way and we will always look into reports of animal cruelty and, where necessary, seek justice for that animal.”

McCann was sentenced to 17 weeks in prison and was disqualified from keeping all animals for 10 years.

He was also ordered to pay a £128 victim surcharge.