A MAN launched a brutal attack on his own dog after it had been placed in a cage in the back of a police van.

Blackburn magistrates heard Scott Anthony Hibbert repeatedly kicked and punched the dog before swinging it by the metal chain around its neck.

He then got hold of the dog with both hands and throttled it.

The court was told a female officer who witnessed the attack said it was the most "horrific" behaviour she could imagine towards an animal.

Hibbert, 21, of Redlam, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and two charges of criminal damage to cars.

He was banned from keeping animals for three years, made subject to a community order for 12 months, with 40 days rehabilitation activity requirement and a curfew between 7pm and midnight for four weeks.

He was ordered to pay £100 compensation to each of the car owners and £85 victim surcharge.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said the incident started at 8.30am on May 19 at an address in New Wellington Street, Blackburn.

Witnesses saw Hibbert leave the address and kick two cars. He was also seen to punch his dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier, before the police arrived.

"A witness said he was clearly heavily under the influence of something," said Mrs Yates. "He was covered in blood and was placed in the back of the van with the dog. She said he was screaming in the dog's face and she then witnessed the most horrific behaviour she could imagine."

Mrs Yates said Hibbert punched the dog in the side, kicked it repeatedly and then swung it round by the chain.

"Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse he picked the dog up by the throat and started to throttle it," said Mrs Yates. "By this stage the dog, which had been agitated, was completely silent."

The dog was eventually removed from the van.

"The officer said she had never seen such an aggressive act towards an animal in her career," said Mrs Yates. "She said if that was how he behaved in public she couldn't imagine how the dog was treated behind closed doors."

When he was interviewed about the incident Hibbert said the officers were lying and he would never lay a finger on the dog. When the witness statements were read to him he told the officers to shut up.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client clearly had problems and could benefit from the assistance of the probation service. He said Hibbert had been drinking all night and had fallen out with his brother. As he left the house he kicked out at the cars in frustration.

"He has always tried to look after the dog as best he can," said Mr Taylor. "It is a highly strung animal and matters were not helped when its owner was irate. What is certain is that it should never have been placed in the back of the police van with him."

He said Hibbert was deeply ashamed of what happened next.

"He doesn't have a clear recollection of the matter but he is deeply apologetic," said Mr Taylor.