Couple dumped their dog in a locked suitcase in the Mersey before violent end to relationship

A couple dumped their dog's lifeless body on the banks of the Mersey in a locked pink suitcase before their doomed relationship came to a violent end.

Christy Hewitt and Chantelle Duvall-Gregory subjected Belgian shepherd Snoop to months of abuse before abandoning their dead pet near to Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve with injuries including broken ribs and fractured teeth. Two years later, the dad-of-three strangled his girlfriend after she refused to have sex with him and repeatedly stamped on her head in another "unpleasant and gratuitous" assault.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, that the 23-year-old had been in a relationship with Chantelle Duvall-Gregory for around four years. But Iain Criddle, prosecuting, described how their time together was marred by "violence and alcohol consumption".

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On January 4 this year, Hewitt - of Parkfield Road in Aigburth - was said to have "become angry" following a night of drinking and ripped a door from its hinges at the couple's flat at around midnight. Duvall-Gregory went outside to smoke a cigarette and "defuse the situation" but was followed by her boyfriend, who punched and kicked her before grabbing her to the throat and throwing her to the ground.

The thug then stamped on her head six times before she was able to escape and "run off" when another resident intervened. She found Hewitt outside upon her return, and he resumed his his attack by slapping her across the face and throwing his mobile phone at her.

Duvall-Gregory again attempted to flee, but her abuser followed her and punched her twice more to the head. She was however only said to have been left suffering from a headache following the incident.

Upon his arrest, Hewitt made "obviously homophobic comments" to police officers. This included "mimicking" one by saying "I'm gay" and calling him a "cushion biter".

He was released on bail with conditions not to contact Duvall-Gregory, but he and his father began residing at her home in spite of this. Then, on the morning of March 13, the complainant refuted Hewitt's sexual advances as they lay in bed - at which he slapped her in the face.

When she slapped him back, he slapped her twice more with such forced that she fell out out of bed. Her assailant then picked her and threw her back onto the mattress, began straddling her and put his hands around her throat.

Hewitt "made threats about being able to kill her with one punch" and threatened to smash a mirror over her head. Duvall-Gregory was left unable to breathe as she was strangled.

She subsequently left the address with the defendant's dad and reported the incident at a job centre, having suffered bruising to her neck, lip, leg and arm. Under interview, Hewitt gave a prepared statement claiming that "she was making it up" after being arrested again.

In a statement which was read out to the court on her behalf, Duvall-Gregory outlined how she has been left suffering from panic attacks and "wakes in the middle of the night thinking she is being strangled". She added that she feels "constantly sick and anxious" and has been forced to move home as a result of the incidents.

Hewitt has a total of eight previous convictions for 15 offences. He received a youth referral order for affray and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place in 2017, a conditional discharge for assault in 2019, a community order for assaulting an emergency services worker in 2022, 22 weeks behind bars for causing unnecessary suffering to animal later the same year.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard on this occasion that there had been evidence that both Hewitt and Duvall-Gregory had punched, kicked and stamped on their two-year-old Belgian shepherd, who was found dead inside a locked suitcase by a dog walker near to Speke and Garston Nature Reserve on January 11 2022. Pete Mitchell, prosecuting, stated that Snoop had suffered "extensive bruising and fractures to the ribs", which would have been inflicted using "significant force" and were said to have been around six to eight weeks old as they had begun to heal.

The suitcase which was dumped in the River Mersey with the body of a dog inside
The suitcase which was dumped in the River Mersey with the body of a dog inside -Credit:RSPCA

The dog also had two fractured canine teeth after being punched in the face. One witness reported previously seeing Duvall-Gregory hitting their pet with a wooden spoon so hard that the object broke.

It was subsequently found that Snoop had died of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis after she had fed him a granola bar containing raisins, which are toxic to dogs. The couple were linked to the gruesome discovery as her name was written on the side of the bright pink carrier.

Duvall-Gregory admitted kicking the dog on the bottom and giving him a "slap on the nose", while Hewitt said he would "give it a slap if the dog was p***ing and s***ing in the house". Mr Mitchell described how the parents would only give their pet leftover food before he fell ill and died on December 23 2021.

Vicky Balenski, appearing on behalf of both defendants, said that her clients had sought help from vets but none were available due to the proximity to Christmas. They pleaded guilty to four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, with Duvall-Gregory handed a 22-month imprisonment suspended for 18 months and her boyfriend ordered to serve his term immediately.

The suitcase which was dumped in the River Mersey with the body of a dog inside
The suitcase which was dumped in the River Mersey with the body of a dog inside -Credit:RSPCA

Peter White, defending Hewitt during his latest appearance, told the court: "This is a gentleman who is still only 23. He is described as somewhat immature and perhaps not as emotionally developed as he should be, bearing in mind he is now a father to three children.

"He is someone who experienced a traumatic childhood. He was reported missing over 100 times and moved from pillar to post in foster accommodation and the care of the local authority, his parents being drug addicts.

"Mr Hewitt thought he was on to something better when he entered a relationship with Ms Duvall-Gregory. He accepts that he has squandered that.

"For the first time in his life, he had relative stability. He accepts that his actions alone have brought that to an end.

"Through me, he wishes to apologise. He accepts the seriousness of the offences.

"Mr Hewitt tells me he is making progress in custody. He is very anxious due to his father being seriously unwell with liver failure, heart failure and a recent bleed on the brain.

"Mr Hewitt was his carer and registered as such before his remand into custody. He is hoping to resume the relationship he had with his children and be a positive figure in their life."

Hewitt admitted intentional strangulation, two counts of assault by beating, criminal damage and a public order offence. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse, he was jailed for 30 months and given a 10-year restraining order.

Christy Hewitt
Christy Hewitt -Credit:Merseyside Police

Sentencing, Recorder Jeremy Lasker said: "It was a relationship which began initially in 2020, but within the first couple of months there was an incident of a violent nature. It was reported to the police by the complainant, although no formal action was taken.

"It did, however, lead to your break up for a period of time. The following year, in April 2021, you apologised for your previous behaviour and you promised that there would be no reoccurrence, and you resumed your relationship together.

"Unhappily, your promise to the complainant proved to be hollow. Your relationship was turbulent.

"The complainant describes it as toxic with alcohol being a major factor leading to violence, aggression and police callouts. This background sets the scene for the offences which you have committed.

"After many hours of drinking, you flew into a rage. You attacked her, using both of your fists to punch her and your feet to kick her.

"She was thrown to the floor, where upon the assault continued by you stamping on her as she lay on the ground. No significant injury was caused, but nevertheless it was an unpleasant and gratuitous assault committed by you whilst you were in drink."

Recorder Lasker said of Hewitt's second attack: "When the complainant refused your sexual advances, as she was quite entitled to do, you became enraged with her. You had previously warned her that you would give her a slap for refusing you, and you did precisely that."

Hewitt replied "thank you your honour" after learning his sentence.

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