Fife man accused of beating his dog to death

A Fife man 'hit, kicked or shook' a dog to death in the middle of the night at his home '“ leaving it with injuries 'the same as a boxer when they get a hameorrage', a trial heard today.

McGhee is on trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court. Picture: George McLuskie
McGhee is on trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court. Picture: George McLuskie

Alexander McGhee is alleged to have killed his lurcher, Murray, at his home in Methil.

A trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard police were called to his home following “reports of concern” for animals at the property.

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“Disgusted” neighbours later told police they were so horrified at the noises they heard coming from McGhee’s property that they had to go out and walk their dog – which was also distressed by the noises.

One told the court it sounded like a dog was being “thrown against a wall”.

When police arrived hours later McGhee told them that Murray had escaped from the property in the middle of the night and that he had later found him dead in a nearby street.

Cops were then led to the lurcher’s body, which McGhee had put in the boot of his car.

McGhee denies harming the animal in any way – and told police that he thought the dog had been hit by a car after running away.

But veterinary experts told the trial that a post-mortem suggested a vehicle impact was “not likely”.

The court was told that when police initially interviewed him he appeared ot be “hiding” an injury to his hand with the sleeve of his jumper.

PC Kirsten Lawrie (36) said she “believed he was covering the hand intentionally”.

She added: “My colleague asked him about it and he showed us a v-shaped cut to his hand.

“He said he had sustained it when he punched a wall in a temper when the dog ran away.”

Veterinary pathologist Dr Bryn Tennant said he believed Murphy had sustained the injuries from being “hit, kicked or shaken with considerable force”.

Dr Tennant said: “The outcome of the post mortem was that this dog had been subjected to multiple traumatic incidents.

“The injuries were spread across the body and the cause of death was the bleeding on the brain.

“The constellation of injuries, in my opinion, were not consistent with a road traffic accident.

“There is a very, very remote possibility that this dog was struck by a vehicle but from what I saw, I do not believe that happened, on the basis of my examination.

“The bleeding around the brain is the same as boxers get when they haemorrhage.”

Fiscal depute Ronnie Hay told the court that earlier evidence in the case suggested McGhee had inflicted the injuries.

He said: “The couple next door left their flat because of the noise emanating from his property.

“When they returned they spoke of a bottle of bleach being outside the premises that wasn’t there when they left.

“They were adamant the noises were not a dog fight.”

They spoke of a male voice “talking aggressively” and swearing, he said.

“One heard slapping sounds and one said it sounded like the dog was being thrown against a wall.

“Both identified him as the person residing there and one confirmed the voice he heard was Mr McGhee’s.”

Giving evidence in his own defence McGhee, a train driver, denied he had played any part in his dog’s death.

He said the dog had been named Murray as they had rescued him from a sanctuary around the time Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2013.

His lawyer, Scott McKenzie, asked him: “The neighbours describe hearing a fairly distressing incident going on within your property with the dogs. Did you engage in any distressing conduct towards your dogs?”

He said: “I’m not going to rescue dogs to hurt them.”

Mr McKenzie asked: “Did you lose your temper with the dog and cause him so much pain that he was in agony for minutes or possibly hours before he died?”

McGhee: “No.”

But fiscal depute Ronnie Hay accused him of drunkenly losing temper and killing the animal.

The prosecutor said: “Sorry to use this phrase but you were off the leash – your partner was away and you were out drinking.”

McGhee replied: “I’m not a big drinker.”

Mr Hay said: “You came home drunk. You were acting aggressively and you took it out on the dogs and one paid the ultimate price. That’s what happened, isn’t it?”

McGhee: “It certainly is not.”

McGhee (44) denies a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act on summary complaint.

The offence is alleged to have been committed on July 8 2017 at his home address.

The trial, before Sheriff Alastair Thornton, continues in January.

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