A man who admitted carrying out a sex act while looking at animal porn and while holding a baby seagull that he had captured has been jailed for 24 weeks.

David Lee, 40, from Roker Avenue, Sunderland, appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, where he had admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the herring gull at a previous hearing.

The incident happened in Sunderland at about 1am on August 18 last year.

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The Northern Echo: David Lee arrives at court to be sentenced David Lee arrives at court to be sentenced (Image: PA)

Magistrates handed him an immediate 24-week jail term and banned him from keeping animals for 10 years.

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting, said: “This was a deliberate and gratuitous act that caused suffering.”

Describing the incident, which was caught on a local resident’s CCTV, she said: “The defendant runs down the street trying to chase a seagull.

“The footage then goes to the back alley and we see the defendant with a different, younger, baby gull in his arms.

“We then see the defendant take his phone out of his pocket and puts it on a box.

“He thereafter takes his trousers down, kneels down and it is very clear he is masturbating.

“He then goes on to move the gull between his legs.

“For a time the defendant is engaging in a sexual act with the baby seagull.”

Ms Burgess said that when he had finished, Lee put the gull down, gave it a “small kick” to shoo it away and walked off in the opposite direction.

As during the previous hearing in April, seagulls on the roof of the court screeched noisily during the sentencing.

A local resident had checked her CCTV cameras and saw what happened, called the police and Lee was traced to a nearby takeaway.

He tried to tell police that he found the bird and picked it up because it was injured, and used his phone to find a vet.

But Ms Burgess said: “Police took the phone and it was very clear he was accessing animal porn at the time.”

Ms Burgess said the crown obtained expert evidence from a vet who said the footage showed “the bird will have been caused unnecessary suffering by the act that the defendant did”.

The Northern Echo: He is unhappy at being photographed He is unhappy at being photographed (Image: PA)

In a victim statement which was read to the court, the woman who saw the offence on her CCTV said: “For almost a year the actions of this person have caused me a lot of mental stress and anxiety.

“I am still haunted by what he did.

“I am unable to get his horrendous actions out of my head.

“I sincerely hope the sentence today gives justice for the bird he defiled and for people like myself who were traumatised when they saw what he did, and it is a deterrent for anyone else who thinks animal abuse is acceptable.”

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Annalisa Moscardini, defending, said Lee was a heavy drinker who experienced blackouts.

“He accepts he must have done this act but he didn’t have a good recollection of it,” she said in explanation of his initial denials.

“To some extent he cannot explain what happened.”

A psychiatric report found he suffered from an unstable personality disorder and was detached from reality.

He was also a pathological liar whose lies served no purpose, the court heard.

Angela Thompson, chairman of the bench, said: “We find this is a deliberate attempt to cause suffering and a high level of suffering was caused.”

Lee arrived at court by bike and it was taken away for safekeeping after he was jailed.

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The Northern Echo: Lee responds with an abusive gesture Lee responds with an abusive gesture (Image: PA)

Anna Malia, of North East Animal Rights, attended court and, after the hearing, she said herring gulls were increasingly rare and have additional protection.

“Because of the sexual nature of this crime, it has received significant attention in the local press with many jokes being made about it,” she said.

“But it is not funny or a subject to be joked about or mocked.”