A man who tied his friend’s dog to a tree before dousing it in petrol and burning it to death was today jailed for almost four years.
Alastair Graham was looking after Bruno, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, for a friend when he snapped after the animal bit his finger.
He tied the animal to a tree in Kirkcaldy’s Dunniker Woods and initially attempted to slit its throat and stab it to death.
But when he failed Graham went to a nearby petrol station and filled up a jerry can before pouring it over the terrified dog.
He then set the dog alight – causing horrific full thickness burns to the defenceless animal.
A sheriff told Graham the attack was a “grotesque act of savagery”.
But the Animal Health and Welfare Act that he was prosecuted under means Graham could only be jailed for a maximum of a year – and his early guilty plea meant only nine months of his 45 month sentence is as a result of the killing.
However, he was jailed for a further 36 months over a knife robbery committed with pal Steven Gourdie days after the fire attack.
Fiscal depute Susan Dickson told Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that a post-mortem on Bruno revealed he had still been alive when Graham had set him alight.
She said: “Around 2pm on April 25 a dog walker saw a black object around 10 metres from a path – he looked more closely and saw it was the remains of a dog.
“Police could not trace the owners at that time be found but information as to its owner was later received.
“On April 28 the owner met Mr Graham and brought the story about the dog being found up on the TV.
“The accused initially said ‘that’s sick’.
“They went into the kitchen and Mr Graham then said ‘it was me’.”
Footage from a BP petrol station saw Graham filling up a container with petrol, and a similar container was found at the scene of the crime.
Graham, 23, a prisoner at HMP Perth, pleaded guilty on indictment to causing Bruno unnecessary sufering by causing his death in the fire on April 24 or 25.
He further admitted an attempted knife robbery committed alongside Steven Gourdie, committed on May 2 at High Street, Leven.
Larry Flynn, defending Graham, said: “This was a serious offence but he has co-operated with the process throughout.
“He has a vague recollection of doing this but was abusing alcohol at the time.
“His recollection is that he attempted to kill it with a knife but he failed and he went to get the petrol then returned.”
Graham was also banned from keeping animals for life.
Bruno’s owners, Christopher McMahon and Chermaine Letham branded Graham “evil” and the maximum sentence “disgusting”.
Chermaine said: “Alastair Graham is an evil man. An eye for an eye.
“Receiving a year maximum is disgusting considering in America a man did the same thing and got five years.
“If he can do that to a helpless dog then what can he do to a child or elderly person?
“His maximum sentence is a joke. He tortured and murdered a family pet simply because he bit his finger.
“That’s disgusting. He should be left to rot.”
She added: “When I found out about Bruno and the terrible way he had passed my heart was broken.
“Bruno was a very loving and caring dog who enjoyed long cuddles. He was so gentle around children and was also good around other dogs.”