A Hendon man has been jailed for senselessly killing two baby birds, not old enough to fly, for his own sadistic pleasure.
Terrence Johnston, 41, grabbed a defenceless herring gull and wrung its neck in Norfolk Street east of the City Centre – then put its body on a spike.
Soon afterwards, the man picked up an object and bludgeoned a second young gull – and again impaled it.
His vile crimes were caught on camera by council CCTV operators and the evidence used to condemn him in court.
Magistrates in South Tyneside heard the birds were so young they could not fly and were easy prey for Johnston, who was described as both a ‘show off’ and “nasty”.
They labelled his violent actions as “callous” – and jailed him for 16 weeks.
Prosecutor Greg Flaxen said: “There’s a group of people, and there’s the birds.
“Essentially, what you see is the defendant beating the birds to death or very close, before they were impaled on railings.
“A statement has been given by an expert to say these birds are extremely young and that they can’t actually fly yet, so they stayed close to their nest.
“They would have been foraging for food. It’s clearly not a normal offence that we would deal with.
“I would take the view that it crosses the custody threshold. He’s a man that’s been before the court before.
“He has 27 convictions from 63 offences, some against the person and some against property.
“Most are for dishonesty of which there’s 19 or kindred.”
Johnston, of no fixed abode but from Hendon, pleaded guilty to two charges of intentionally killing a wild bird.
In a Probation Service report, he admitted he could be ‘nasty’ and did not blame alcohol for the killings.
Angus Westgarth, defending, urged magistrates not to jail Johnston and claimed he could be rehabilitated, including by an alcohol treatment order.
But he admitted: “I don’t think anyone could be criticised for saying this offence is abhorrent and he should go to jail.
“He’s clearly a man who needs reformation. I accept that he requires punishment, but he also requires a great deal of help.”
Johnston was jailed for 16 weeks for each offence, to run concurrently.