SWINDON magistrates have banned a man from keeping pets for five years after hearing he dangled his dog by its lead, prompting a passing couple to rescue the animal.

Hywell Clay, who had denied causing unnecessary suffering to an animal but was found guilty in his absence at an earlier hearing, was also told yesterday that three-year-old dog Roxy would be taken from him.

Prosecutor Pauline Lambert said a couple passed Clay outside Tesco in Ocotal Way on November 5 last year and saw him yanking the dog’s lead as he stumbled along the pavement.

As they watched they saw him take the lead in both hands and lift the dog off the floor.

He was also seen kicking it.

Stopping their car they intervened. A tussle followed as one witness grabbed the distressed dog to take the weight from its neck.

Clay grabbed the dog round the neck and tried to take it back as a crowd gathered around them.

The witness let the dog go and put his hands on Clay’s shoulders to prevent him leaving. Clay threw himself backwards, landing on the ground.

The dog tried to get back to the witness and a struggle followed.

She said: “Clay was eventually restrained by Tesco security staff.

"When police arrived they found him struggling to sit and drooling and he was abusive as they questioned him.

Clay, 47, of Radnor Court, Longcot, near Faringdon, had also been found guilty of being drunk and disorderly and failing to surrender to Chippenham magistrates on March 1. He had denied both allegations.

Alex Daymond, defending, said Clay still disputed the allegations but understood the court had made up its mind. However he did agree that he had a problem with alcohol.

Until the last couple of years he had worked as a panel beater for a classic car restoration business. But his life had spiralled out of control with the death of his brother.

He recognised he had an alcohol problem and had got his GP to refer him to alcohol counselling services.

“He is very keen to sort his life out and get back into work,” said Mr Daymond.

Clay was almost £20,000 in arrears with his mortgage and was facing repossession.

He had owned dogs since he was five years old and until the incident in November there had been no suggestion of him maltreating his pets.

“He loves dogs and is appalled that he has been accused of this,” he said.

“In fact Clay had chosen to be a vegetarian because of his concern for animal welfare.

“Bearing in mind that he has had dogs for so long, this would appear to be a one-off incident in all the circumstances, suggested Mr Daymond. Clay lived alone and relied on his dog for company.

“I would urge the court not to remove that from him.”

The bench ordered that the dog, currently in kennels, should be rehomed and Clay barred from keeping pets for five years.

Clay was also given a 12-month community order, told to pay £200 prosecution costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

No separate penalties were imposed for the other two charges.