A Leeds man has been jailed for 18 weeks and disqualified from keeping animals for life after being convicted of three offences in relation to the death of a Staffordshire bull terrier called Leo who was found in a suitcase in a cemetery.

Mason Medford (D.O.B 17.11.99) of Bellbrooke Grove was picked up on warrant this morning (Monday 20 August) and presented to Leeds Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.

He was due to appear before the court last Tuesday (14 August) but failed to attend and the case was heard in his absence.

He was found guilty of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet the needs of Staffordshire bull terrier Leo under the Animal Welfare Act and a warrant without bail issued.

Leo was discovered in a suitcase under some shrubs at Harehills Cemetery on Kimberley Road on Wednesday 24 January and the RSPCA called.

RSPCA inspector Sarah Mason said: “This was a really shocking incident to deal with and I’m glad that the court viewed it so seriously.

“Leo’s emaciated body had been crammed into a black suitcase, wrapped in a towel.

“When vets weighed him he was just 11.6kg, he was literally a skeleton of a dog. The collar he had around his neck – which presumably fit at some time – was just hanging off him.

“The suffering Leo endured before he died must have been enormous.”

Leo was microchipped to an address in Newport, Gwent – over 200 miles and four and a half hours drive away – but when Inspector Mason called the number registered she was told he had been rehomed six months ago via the internet.

A press appeal followed to try to establish what had happened to him, the coverage from which resulted in Medford handing himself in to a police station.

At the hearing last week, the court heard that Medford took the dog on from some friends, who had themselves bought him from someone in York, when they found that Leo and their other dog didn’t get on and that his previous owner wouldn’t take him back. Medford brought him home on 26 November. He told police that the dog had growled at him and acted aggressively so he left him at the house.

Inspector Mason said: “He literally abandoned this dog to die.

“He shut him in a room with no food or water and didn’t come back until he was dead.

“Veterinary evidence found that he had suffered for a minimum of four weeks, eventually suffering multiple organ failure.

“The house was disgusting, there was faeces and urine everywhere, and splatters of blood. What Leo went through during that time doesn’t bear thinking about.”

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