An elderly man avoided jail after he killed his dog with a hammer and dumped the animal in a river.

The incident came to light in December last year when the body of the dog, a six-year-old German Shepherd named Molly, washed up on the banks of River Tyne with a piece of washing line around the neck. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) identified the dog’s owner as 71-year-old Melvyn Hall, a former magistrate, and interrogated him during which the man said he killed the dog because it was annoying him, a court in the U.K. heard Wednesday.

RSPCA Inspector Rowena Proctor said that during the interview, Hall said “he had gone to the shop and come home to find her dead before going on to admit hitting Molly on the head with a hammer, strangling her with the washing line that was around her neck when her body was found and dumping her in the River Tyne.”

“He said he did it because she was following him around and getting on his nerves and he lashed out. He showed me where he had done it, in his garden shed, and gave me the hammer he had used,” Proctor added.

However, Hall later told the court he hit the dog with a hammer by mistake while trying to get a mouse and that he did not provide the canine with treatment.

Proctor said, “A post-mortem found that Molly had several fractures to skull and evidence of hemorrhaging however it was unlikely these injuries would have caused immediate death. The vet said that the attack on Molly from the person who cared for her would have caused immediate distress, which would have quickly passed into suffering when she received the blow from the hammer.”

“The pain of a fracturing skull would be intense but the period of suffering wasn’t possible to establish from the post-mortem due to the decomposition of her body. They went on to say that the presence of the washing line and injuries to her neck, which were consistent with having been strangled, indicate that the owner was uncertain of the state of consciousness of Molly after she had been hit with the hammer,” Proctor added.

Hall admitted to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act and was handed an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for a year.