A MAN has been jailed after stabbing his dog to death, while his children slept upstairs.

Paul McCaw claimed that the Staffordshire Bull Terrier had been suffering excruciating pain in its back legs and he could not afford vets bills.

Rather than seek help, he stabbed the family pet at least 40 times with a six-inch kitchen and buried it in his back garden.

The gruesome crime was unmasked after neighbours raised concerns, which led to RSPCA inspectors called at the 27-year-old’s home on Alder Street, Newton-le-Willows in May.

In a hearing at St Helens Magistrates’ Court, Peter Mitchell, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the father-of-three appeared to know why they were there and claimed to have strangled the dog the day before.

Mr Mitchell explained: “He said that the dog collapsed in pain, so he took it into the back garden and he strangled it, taking about 20 minutes.

“He gave inspectors permission to dig up the body and continued with the deception, taking them to a field beside a cemetery. He alleged the dog was buried there, but it clearly wasn’t the case.

“After not recovering the body they returned to the defendant’s address, because they believed it was buried in the back garden.

“He refused them access and became hostile.”

The inspectors left before returning with a police officer. In the back garden, they noticed a patch of soil, which had recently been disturbed.

They began to dig and it was not long before they made their grim discovery.

The ten-year-old dog named Cheech was covered in multiple stab wounds and soaked in blood.

Mr Mitchell said that one of the wounds looked as if McCaw had attempted to “slash its wrist”.

It also had wounds to its head, chest and neck.

Its body was taken to Liverpool for a post-mortem. Going back to the house, they noticed numerous blood stains on table legs and a children’s toy box.

A section of lino had also been cut away and there was dried blood found on the remaining edge. At that stage he agreed to hand over his other dog to them.

In total Cheech suffered 40 wounds - with one puncturing a lung - causing it to collapse. Mr Mitchell said the dog died drowning in its own blood.

Under police interview, he said Cheech had been struggling with his legs for the past ten-months.

Mr Mitchell described how McCaw lay beside his dog and tried to slit its throat, before plunging the six inch kitchen knife into its chest.

McCaw claimed that Cheech’s arthritis stemmed from an injury he sustained in a traffic collision when he was just two.

His defending solicitor Mark Brown said McCaw had previously sought veterinary help, for Cheech.

On the night he was killed, Cheech jumped off the settee and appeared to be in pain. McCaw had given it half a paracetamol tablet in the past, but on this night, the dog snapped and bit him, said Mr Brown.

He added: “In his own mind (McGraw), was of the view that Cheech was suffering and needed to be put out of its misery. No vet is going to turn away a dog that needs to be treated, which is what he should have done.”

In what Mr Brown described as “quite a set of shocking circumstances”, he said that McCaw initially attempted to smother the dog, but it didn’t work, so he decided to stab it.

“The next morning, the children came down, but couldn’t find the dog. He told them it had died and had gone to doggy heaven.

“He didn’t even tell his partner and that appeared to be that. Then two days later the inspectors came knocking.”

Jailing him for 18-weeks, magistrates’ also banned him from keeping animals for 20 years.

RSPCA inspector Louise Showering said: "This dog suffered an absolutely terrible, violent death at the hands of an owner who had been responsible for her for almost her entire life.

"Though he says he thought he was putting her out of her misery, he actually caused her to suffer much more with the actions he took. First trying to suffocate her then stabbing her many, many times.

"I can't imagine what this dog's final hours must have been like at the hands of someone she loved.

"It certainly wasn't the dignified and pain-free end most owners hope for their beloved pets."