WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES Susannah Bragg, 27, began dating Joshua Sharp in early January last year and introduced him to her five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter
A woman has said she was left physically sick after having to dig up the pet kitten her boyfriend had beaten to death – and it wasn’t the first time he’d killed an innocent animal.
Susannah Bragg, 27, began dating 25-year-old Joshua Sharp in early January 2021, and introduced him to her five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.
But the short relationship soon turned into a nightmare for the mum after she noticed Sharp would become jealous of her spending time with her two cats and dog Boo.
Speaking about her ex Susannah said: “Joshua seemed a bit jealous of the animals and would often say the dog got in the way of him cuddling me.
“He seemed to hate any attention being taken away from him and the kitten was always on top of me, cuddling in.”
Just three weeks into the relationship, Susannah noticed her pets would act strangely around him, in particular one of her cats called Peppa.
One evening, she found him at the back of his litter box, stiff and covered in faeces.
She said: “I called downstairs for Joshua to have a look and he said I was being silly and that Peppa had an upset stomach.
“I told him it was odd that whenever he was around the animals acted strangely but he just kept repeating that he was an animal lover.”
Although Susannah’s suspicions were raised, she chose to believe it was just a coincidence and cleaned Peppa up, keeping him safely tucked in with her in bed that night.
But days later she found her son and Sharp in the upstairs bedroom with the terrified cat who had been forced into a shoebox.
She said: “Joshua said my son had put Peppa in a shoebox and was going to stamp on it.
“I was shocked and asked my son, and he immediately said he hadn’t and that Joshua had put Peppa in the shoebox.
“It was odd but Peppa was fine so I brushed it off and went out for the walk.”
Tragedy struck that evening as, after putting her daughter to bed, Susannah found her cat curled in a ball on the bed with blood pouring out of his nose and mouth.
The mum said: “I screamed and turned around and Joshua was standing behind me.
“He kept saying Peppa would be fine but I called a vet straight away.
“I couldn’t go near the cat – I was petrified he was dead, so Joshua checked him while I spoke to the vet, and he said he was still breathing.”
Peppa was pronounced dead on arrival to an emergency vet, but the vet couldn’t explain the cause of death over unexplained bruising on the top of Peppa’s head.
A devastated Susannah couldn’t believed what had happened, and Sharp managed to convince her a post mortem would be useless.
“The vet offered a post mortem but Joshua kept saying it wasn’t worth it and would cost me thousands of pounds and that it would be unfair on Peppa to cut him open.
“I felt really vulnerable and went along with it when he said he would bury Peppa instead.”
Susannah watched as Sharp buried Peppa in some local woodland, but the suspicion that he may have had something to do with it wouldn’t go away.
Sharp had previously told her how one of his exes had a dog die weeks after meeting him – and and the next day she booked a post mortem to unearth the grim truth.
Susannah had to watch as Peppa’s body was exhumed from where Sharp had buried him.
She said: “I was physically sick watching Peppa be dug up.
“But I needed answers and there was still some doubt in my mind that he was evil enough to hurt my cat.”
The report showed Peppa had suffered flat impact trauma to the head, resulting in a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage, which had caused his lungs to fill with blood.
There were four marks found on his head but no marks or injuries sustained anywhere else on the body.
Susannah dumped Sharp that night and filed a report with the RSPCA and police, who said that due to a lack of evidence they could not charge him over a lack of evidence.
But she reached out to Sharp’s ex on social media, who told her that her 12-week-old Dachshund puppy Stark had died, and her story had chilling similarities to Susannah’s own.
She said: “I approached her and she said she’d had suspicions about Joshua hurting her dog too.
“She said the dog would whimper whenever she left it in the room with Joshua.
“The day he died, she found him lying on its side, gasping for air and dry retching.
“They said the likely cause of death was trauma to the stomach – but Joshua persuaded her not to get a post-mortem.”
The RSPCA investigated both cases and brought them to trial on 30 November 2021 at Reading Magistrates Court.
It was found that Peppa died by blunt force trauma to the skull.
Meanwhile Stark was found to have non-cardiac pulmonary oedema, commonly caused by a trauma.
Joshua denied the charges but was found guilty at trial of two counts of causing death by not protecting the animals from pain and suffering.
He will be sentenced on 18 January 2022 and is appealing against Stark’s case.
Susannah said: “The relief hearing Joshua has been found guilty is overwhelming. It’s been a long, long journey.
“I have accepted Peppa’s death but I still can’t get it clear in my head how anyone could cause such a small defenceless kitten such pain and torture.
“People like Joshua will never change – this behaviour isn’t an impulsive one off, he will commit again.
“In my opinion people like this need mental help. It’s worrying to think what he is capable of when he gets bored of animals.
“He is dangerous and the pain he has caused to me and my family is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“I’m lucky I got away from him and feel we almost got a lucky escape because the longer we were together, the more blind I would have been to him.
“You don’t think there are people out there that are capable of this.
“I still can’t believe the only time he was with my son, he tried to get him involved in the abuse.”
RSPCA Inspector Sharon Chrisp said: “The RSPCA are really pleased with the results, these two tiny baby animals suffered terrible abuse at the hands of this man, hopefully his sentence will deter this behaviour in the future.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.