Cat swinging suspect hands himself into police
Published 11/11/2011 | 11:25
A MAN suspected of swinging a terrified cat by its tail was identified for the first time today as 20-year-old Riain Richards after he handed himself into police.
Officers and RSPCA inspectors had identified Richards as a person they wanted to interview in connection with the daylight attack on Mowgli on the streets of Ramsgate, Kent but could not locate him.
Just hours after the 20 year-old was urged to hand himself in, Richards presented himself to Margate police station shortly after 9am on Friday.
He was accompanied by his solicitor after RSCPA inspectors and police officers failed to find him at his home address, just around the corner from where the incident occurred.
He is currently being questioned by detectives and animal welfare officers. He has not been charged.
A RSPCA spokeswoman said: ''The RSPCA can confirm that this morning, a 20-year-old man from Ramsgate voluntarily handed himself into Margate Police Station and is now helping us with our enquiries.
''We would like to thank the media and the public for their help in our appeal following this incident involving a cat being swung by his tail.''
While she declined to comment on the suspect's identity The Daily Telegraph established Richards' identity.
On his personal page on an internet social networking site he says he is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club.
He is says he is "always happy" and that his "religion" is "one love one life". He lists his hobbies as "sport n (sic) raving".
The developments came after his brother, after being shown images of the CCTV footage of the attack, said "if it's him, then he's an idiot”.
Mowgli, a two-year-old tom, narrowly escaped injury in the attack at 8.30am on Oct 29 as more than 14 times next to railings and cars, coming within inches of smashing its head on the pavement.
Mowgli's owner, Michelle Buchanan, urged the public to help catch the man responsible for the "appalling" cruelty.
The attack was captured on a CCTV camera outside the Camden Arms pub next to Miss Buchanan’s flat, and the footage was handed to the RSPCA by its landlord, Mark Reynolds.
The 17-second clip shows the man, wearing black trousers and a beige top, spinning Mowgli around at least 14 times before going out of shot.
Miss Buchanan, a 43-year-old IT teacher, was at work and did not find out about the attack until she returned to her home in the afternoon.
Richards' brother told The Daily Telegraph that he only heard about the incident when he went for a drink in the Camden Arms late on Thursday.
The man, who lives in Margate, said after looking at the CCTV footage: "If it's him, then he's an idiot but I don't know. I can't get hold of him or my parents. I don't know where he is."
Miss Buchanan took Mowgli to the vets last night for a check-up amid concerns of internal injury. The RSPCA said that the cat would have "suffered an amount of pain because of the weight put on the tail".
Miss Buchanan said: "I'm overwhelmed with the support I've had. You can imagine what people are saying should be done with those responsible.
“There's definitely a sense of anger from people. I just feel a bit sorry for Mowgli now. It's been like he's had to relive it all.”
One neighbour said they were surprised to hear he was involved in the incident.
She said: "I've never known him to be cruel to animals. He's always been good with my cats." They said he used to play football in the street when he was a teenager. The house was in darkness on Thursday night.
The RSPCA said it had a “tremendous response” to the appeal for information and confirmed the suspect could be charged with cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act.
If convicted the maximum sentence he faces is six months in jail and/ or a fine of up £20,000.
Caroline Doe, the local RSPCA inspector, said: "I would call on those responsible to take a small step to come forward and admit what they have done.
“We're going to find them irrespective, so come forward and try to make amends.
"The cat will have suffered with the amount of pain because of the weight put on the tail. It would be quite common for an attack like this to cause serious damage to the tail and it wouldn't be unexpected for us to find the cat with a tail that is completely useless.”
Mark Reynolds, the landlord of the Camden Arms, said: "It's been the topic of conversation all day in the pub.
“People here really love their animals and they're really shocked by the footage."
A Kent Police spokesman confirmed that officers were involved in the search for the suspect.
Last year Mary Bale, a 45-year-old bank worker, had to be given police protection after she was filmed dumping a cat in a wheelie bin near her home in Coventry.
Bale, a spinster, received death threats after the CCTV footage of her trapping Lola, a four-year-old tabby, in the bin, was posted on the internet.
She was fined £250 after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and blamed her actions on “a split second of misjudgement”.