A vile couple have appeared in court after subjecting their two-year old pet dog to months of abuse before dumping it in a suitcase by the River Mersey.

Chantelle Duvall-Gregory, 20, and her partner, Christy Carl-Hewitt, 21, were soon identified as the pooch's owner as the former's name was seen embossed on the side of the case when it was found by a dog walker near the Speke and Garston Nature Reserve on January 11 last year.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard the pair had punched, kicked, and stamped on Belgian Shepherd Snoop, who was discovered dead in the locked case, reports Liverpool ECHO.

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Peter Mitchell, prosecuting, described poor Snoop as having "extensive bruising and fractures to the ribs" and two fractured canine teeth, although it was impossible to tell who inflicted the "non-accidental" injuries.

He said: "As you know, the ribs are nature's shock absorbers so it takes significant force to break them. They minimised exactly how much force they used on this dog".

Damage to the ribs was deemed to have occurred six to eight weeks previously, as the bones had begun to heal.

The fractured teeth, meanwhile, indicated poor Snoop had been punched in the head.

The court learned the abuse took place between April 1 and December 22, 2021, at the couple's former home, whilst it was determined Snoop died from haemorrhagic gastroenteritis after eating a granola bar containing raisins given by Duvall-Gregory, who is now of no fixed abode.

Vicky Balenski, defending, told the court Snoop had become ill and died on December 23, but the pair had earlier called several vets seeking help but to no avail as it was so close to Christmas.

She said Snoop was already deceased when he was locked the suitcase, adding their disposal of his body was not an attempt to conceal anything.

Ms Balenski also explained that the dog wasn't interested in regular dog food and that Duvall-Gregory believed she had removed all the raisins from the granola bar first.

The pair pleaded guilty to inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and abusive behaviour on Snoop, failing to provide an adequate diet, failing to take him to a vet when necessary, and to one count of breaching their duties as people responsible for ensuring the welfare of an animal.

Sentencing, Judge James Hatton said: "For a lengthy period of time, this dog has been beaten and abused."

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Addressing Duvall-Gregory, he said: "This is prolonged ill treatment and neglectful treatment of this animal and has resulted in its untimely death.

"It is abundantly clear that you beat that defenceless animal over a lengthy period of time."

Judge Hatton sentenced Duvall-Gregory to 22 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered her to pay a £128 victim surcharge and £450 prosecution costs.

Addressing Carl-Hewitt, he added: "Much of what I have said to your co-defendant applies to you."

Carl-Hewitt, who is currently serving a community order relating to another charge, was jailed for 22 weeks.

Both were handed a 10-year disqualification from owning an animal, which cannot be appealed for five years.

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