Scores of murderers, rapists and child abusers have convictions for animal cruelty

The courtroom statistics show a clear link between criminals who started by torturing and killing animals – before going on to commit horrendous offences against people.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that 13 convicted murderers, 22 child rapists and 99 people guilty of child cruelty have been convicted or cautioned for animal cruelty offences.

The tally – covering the last 10 years – also includes 210 sex offenders, 1,581 people convicted of violently attacking others and 78 found guilty of sexually assaulting women or girls.

As well as the offences of violence there were also 569 weapon possession charges, 268 vandalism and arson offences and 179 robbery crimes committed by these offenders with animal cruelty offences in their past.

Offenders who have killed animals before then going on to become murderers include Dunblane gunman Thomas Hamilton, Moors murderer Ian Brady and James Bulger killers Robert Thompson and Jon Venables.

Crime experts believe offenders who start by killing or torturing animals frequently move on to carrying out similar attacks on people.

The crimes on animals are said to de-sensitise them to the cruelty and pain their attacks cause.

Mimi Bekhechi, Director of International Programmes at the animal welfare charity PETA, said: “We can't see cruelty to animals as separate from violence against humans.

“Because animals cannot report abuse themselves, are unable to speak out, and are vulnerable, they're easy targets and often become "practice" victims for people who – like these statistics suggest – later move on to harming humans.

“Research into psychology and criminology has long shown that incidents involving cruelty to animals regularly appear in the records of violent criminals who display psychopathic traits.

“It's imperative that the police treat cases of animal abuse with the utmost seriousness for the safety of both animals and humans – history has shown what happens when they don't.”

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