A MAN who tortured and mutilated a hedgehog in a horrific attack which he carried out for his own “perverse pleasure” has been locked up.

Convicted killer Richard Coyle, 54, who was jailed for manslaughter in 2006, butchered the animal while homeless and living in a tent.

Sign up to our Crime and Court newsletter to get all the day’s news direct to your inbox

Police officers were called to woodland in Blackwood after neighbours heard blood-curdling screams, Newport Magistrates’ Court heard.

The cries turned out to be former solider Coyle mimicking the voice of a woman in distress and pleading for help.


Aled Watkins, prosecuting, said: “The facts are gruesome and they are troubling.

“We say this defendant has mutilated and tortured a live hedgehog.

“It is a serious and troubling case.”

He said Coyle attracted attention after he mimicked the voice of a woman in distress and pleading for help.

Mr Watkins told the court: “During the early hours of the morning on August 27, 2019, PCs Lauren Lewis and James Goodman approached a tent off Highfields Way where the defendant was living.

“They could hear a female screaming, ‘Help me! Someone help me!’”

He said when the officers found the animal inside the tent they challenged Coyle about what he had done to the creature, to which he replied: “It’s only a ******* hedgehog! It’s got fleas.”

PC Goodman told the court: “We could hear screaming coming from the woodland. It sounded blood-curdling, like someone was being seriously hurt, killed, raped.

“It sounded like a female voice.”

He told of what he encountered when he went inside Coyle’s tent.

The officer said: “I could smell burning flesh, burning hair. Death. The hedgehog was mutilated. The smell was horrendous.”

The defendant was arrested and the animal, which was still alive, was taken to Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod Y Garth, Cardiff, where it was put to sleep.

Coyle, of Beech Avenue, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, denied causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and mutilating a wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering.

The ex-Royal Welch Fusilier, represented by Stephen Jones, told the court: “It was me screaming. I’ve got PTSD from serving in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

“I was screaming to myself in frustration.

“I wouldn’t hurt an animal – I’m an animal lover. My family would disown me for this. I’m no sicko.”

Coyle claimed he didn’t know the hedgehog was in his tent and that a “mystery person” must have thrown it in there.

After hearing the case, Judge Martin Brown did not retire and immediately found the defendant guilty.

He told Coyle: “You were mimicking a cry for help for your own perverse satisfaction of the horror, terror and pain you inflicted upon this animal.

“The depths to which a person can sink to is something which I find deeply disturbing."

Judge Brown sent the defendant to prison for six months, the maximum sentence he could impose, and banned him from keeping animals for 10 years.

Former boxer Coyle was jailed for two years in 2006 after he admitted manslaughter.

Cardiff Crown Court heard then how he bullied and physically abused his alcoholic flatmate before killing him with a single punch.

His 35-year-old victim died in hospital from slow bleeding to the brain 18 days after his skull was fractured.