York student convicted for frying hamster

James White was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the hamster

James White was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the hamster

James White, a University of York student, has been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal after he drunkenly decided to fry his flatmate’s hamster last year.

The Politics and International Relations student has been sentenced to 120 hours of community service, with a fine of £1000 in court costs. He has been banned from keeping animals for eight years.

Roy Anderson, district judge, told White he would have been punished more severely, but the prosecution could not prove it was the frying of the female Syrian hamster that caused its death.

He said, “What happened on that night is still shrouded in mystery.

“By virtue of your treatment of this small, unfortunate rodent you’ve destroyed your good character and acquired a criminal conviction.”

A University spokesperson said, “We note the decision of the court. As this matter has not been raised formally as a disciplinary issue under University regulations, we propose to take no further action.”

At the time of his arrest, White told police he could not remember what happened to the hamster. Later in court he changed to a guilty plea, after the judge said White would be convicted even if the animal were dead before he decided to fry it.

Experts were asked to find out the precise cause of the pet’s death in post-mortem tests, but produced conflicting evidence as to whether the hamster was killed by frying.

Judge Anderson said, “Had that sadistic conduct been established I would be dealing with you in a far more serious way than I am.”

The sentence was given on the basis that the rodent died while being handled by White, minutes before he put it in the pan.

The 21-year-old student was prosecuted by the RSPCA, with the court case running from February last year.


  1. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:08 pm

    Charlie O'Keefe

    What an awful, awful person he must be.

    Let off lightly, I’d say.

  2. what a twat

  3. Absolute lad. Poor hamster though.

  4. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:15 pm

    Isidore of Seville

    “Experts were asked to find out the precise cause of the pet’s death in post-mortem tests, but produced conflicting evidence as to whether the hamster was killed by frying.”
    Jesus Christ, how much money did they waste on the murder trial of a goddamn hamster? The NHS, the state school system and so many other things are being driven into the ground through lack of funding, but the legal system thinks it’s appropriate to throw money at a mickey mouse (pun not intended) court case like this.

  5. When I was at York there was an online bulletin board everyone used. If you tried to log on too frequently it temp banned you for some time. Frustrated I couldn’t get on I signed up using the name and email of my psychology professor. Some other lecturer saw me writing messages on there and found it wasn’t the actual prof. and complained.

    The thing is, I got sent down (excluded from the university) for a year for that. I was not allowed to even live in York or visit during that year. All my friends did their third year without me and graduated, so they weren’t there when I returned for my own third year.

    This guy murders (possibly tortures and murders if he didn’t kill the animal humanely) an animal on campus and the university does nothing to him whatsoever?

  6. I imagine that if enough people raise it with the University they’ll have to think about taking action.

  7. evil. imagine being fried alive!

  8. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:28 pm

    Not the artist formerly known as Prince

    Typical uni students. Preachy, hypocritical and above all overly eager to be incensed by a relatively inane action. The hamster, for all that’s known, could have passed away in it’s hamstery sleep, but even if it didn’t this guy made one drunken mistake and has already been quite significantly punished by the legal system. Now we have the classic halfwits baying for the Uni to go after his blood too? God have mercy on us all.

  9. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:34 pm


    typical uni student thinkg hes bettar then evryone else

    this woud never have happened back in thatchers day.

  10. @ Not the Artist….

    If by being a ‘typical uni student’ you mean being very liberal, then I would say there’s nothing particularly liberal about wanting your University to take action against a student for what is an incredibly cowardly and malicious act, regardless of the fact he’d had a few.

  11. 7 Mar ’13 at 6:46 pm



    Totally agree! If we don’t stop animal cruelty then it will become a plague on the university and our world in general! I blame loose immigration policies from the labour government.

  12. @Ross

    Did he say, at any point, that he meant liberal?
    I agree. He wronged, he’s been punished, untwist your panties folks.

  13. @Isidore of Seville

    The prosecution was funded by the RSPCA. The poor state of the NHS and our education system has nothing to do with this trial.

  14. This guy did something stupid and cruel whilst drunk. He has been punished accordingly. Let that be the end of it.

  15. 7 Mar ’13 at 7:21 pm

    Kieran Gennoy

    I understand what he’s done is wrong, but people need to stop judging him and realise students are on a tight budget. Fried hamster provides a good, cheap source of protein.

  16. Phil:
    But it won’t be the end of it. Unless you punish something severely enough, it will be done again and again.

    By the way, I really hope Not the artist formerly known as Prince is not a student his misplaced apostrophe is cringe-worthy.

  17. 7 Mar ’13 at 7:40 pm

    Veggie Facist

    Why everyone get up in arms about a dead hamster is beyond me. You people eat meat carcasses without batting an eyelid. Now of course this case is cruelty to animals, I advocate no animals at all should be cooked or eaten. But this is hypocrisy at its highest level.
    The case should be dealt with in terms of him frying a hamster that was not his property, not as cruelty to animals because loosely, your frying bacon for dinner is hardly so far off.
    I still remain it is a horrific thing to do, but only marginally worse than what you probably ate tonight.

  18. 7 Mar ’13 at 7:47 pm


    2 rightt!

    This plauge of animal cruetly is sweeping our nation, and until the appropriate (ie CAPITAL) punishments are put in place no animal can sleep safe in our beds at night!

  19. 7 Mar ’13 at 8:16 pm

    Not the artist formerly known as Prince


    You do seem like exactly the kind of person who would consider pointing out a minor grammatical blip to be quite the uppercut. Your rhetoric re: the McHamster only serves to strengthen this impression. You waste of oxygen.

  20. The hamster he killed was my friend, i still have nightmares over the smell of his burning flesh..I still have therapy over it. He is a meany. A meany.

  21. @Ross, I’m sure that the University has its own procedures that it follows when it comes to cases like this and that it will have acted in accordance with those, rather than allowing the mob to pressure it into taking a particular path. I don’t condone what he has done but there’s too many busybody, jobsworth types at this uni who like to talk a lot about “solidarity” or worse “calling out” and such like when what they in fact mean is assuming the role of judge, jury and executioner and ganging up on people as part of a group or clique and making life hard for people, often on the basis of second hand evidence. I can’t comment on you, but a lot of these people would never take on a group by themselves, it’s always the other way round. In this instance the lad’s been tried through the proper channels in a court of law and, quite frankly, whatever happens, it’s none of your business.

  22. “none of your business”? “the mob”?

    Let the poor lad kill his animals in peace, is that it? I think when you begin to KILL, to KILL ON CAMPUS! it becomes everyone’s business.

  23. OK it wasn’t on campus, but you get the idea.

  24. 8 Mar ’13 at 2:17 am

    Sir Cheesecake

    We all get the idea, but you’re just not funny mate. Sorry.

  25. 8 Mar ’13 at 2:21 am

    Sir Cheesecake

    Lets just say this lad has had enough of a bollocking as it is. What was done may have been ridiculous, cynical and horrible, but I’d hopefully guess remorse has been in full effect for a long time. There’s no space for a vendetta here.

  26. 8 Mar ’13 at 2:32 am

    Freedom of speech wins again

    Cutting out roughly 15 comments is a fine example of the values driving this pseudonewspaper.

  27. If its been running since February last year, he is 21, and I’m a third year on the same course that has never seen him, there is a chance he doesn’t actually attend this uni anymore anyway?

    Also agree with Phil. Isn’t really the university’s place to act. If a student got their driving licence revoked for not paying insurance or was doing drugs would it be right that the university punish them?!

  28. No quantity of alcohol is an excuse: the capacity to perform a disgusting act was there. Though I wouldn’t advocate ‘take him to the stocks’ punishment, I do think the university should take action: a criminal, offensive and cruel act was committed by a student who was part of an institution, which should, in regard to the actions of its members, have a holistic view about how the parts affect the whole. All unis should make clear what type of students they want, and what type of students they want to ‘create’.

  29. 8 Mar ’13 at 1:33 pm

    Clive Mendonca

    This lad always was a wrongun in seminars, not that surprised he’s fried up a hamster. Can’t handle his drink…

  30. 8 Mar ’13 at 1:38 pm

    Alabama Hotpocket

    Dear Plebs,

    They eat guinea pigs in Peru (for anyone who didn’t have a REAL gap year). And they eat dogs in China (or one of those places). I’ve long said that the RSPCA is a corrupt organisation willing to turn the other cheek when it happens to be convenient for them. If it were up to me I’d be able to marinate, cook and eat anyone who hasn’t attended public school or at the very least start up UYFHC (University of York Fox Hunting Club) on campus.


    A. Hotpocket

  31. @B, I think it would have been fairer if you had written that the university should “be able to take” action, rather than “should take” action. It is an important part of our contract with the University that as fee-paying customers we know exactly what the consequences of any action we might take will be in advance, and that we can be certain that the rules we sign up under will be applied uniformly in each and every case. It is reasonable for us to assume that judgement will not be made at the whim or personal morals of whichever faculty member is investigating, and certainly not at the behest of vocal factions on campus. Judging by the statement made by the University with regards to this case, no infringement meriting disciplinary action has been committed and so that should be an end to it. In fact, it’s worth noting that in English law we have the principle of “locus standi” which means only the evidence of those with a personal interest in a case may be admitted. As Judge Denning said in 1996, “The court will not listen to a busybody who is interfering in things which do not concern him.” If you want to make a case with the uni for changing the rules which involve the University taking action in future for criminal offences committed outside of campus, then by all means write to them.

    My own opinion, incidentally is that a silly drunken mistake was made, of which the full details are still unknown, and that people should get off their high horses and let it be chalked down to experience, rather than calling for over the top, career damaging sanctions which will affect him for a lifetime.

  32. I so agree with you Veggie Facist – everyone makes a fuss about something like this and care nothing for the millions of factory farmed animals who are suffering in their millions right now. John, this can hardly be called a “silly, drunken mistake” – it is sadistic cruelty and behaviour like this should always be taken seriously. Many psychopaths and child murderers were known to have ‘started’ by torturing animals.

  33. @John.
    First, your idea of a ‘silly drunken mistake’, and of one’s role as a student is quite different from mine (in connection with the holistic approach I advocate, I consider myself more than just a paying customer).
    Second, locus standi concerns a party’s right to participation in a legal case, not a party’s right to voice opinion on non-legal university policy, or the outcome of a case. Since I only commented on the university’s decision, your point strikes me as a case of glib textbook-sourced magniloquence.
    Third, in accordance with my earlier comment re: the holistic approach I think the university should adopt, I disagree that the university’s current decision ‘should be an end to it’. Though I agree that the morals of an individual or faction should not dictate, I don’t think that they should be ignored either. So I appreciate that perhaps I should write to the university.

  34. 8 Mar ’13 at 3:25 pm


    Hey guys, a quick question just out of interest:
    Q. If your housemate fried your pet hamster would you:
    1. Ruin his life by contacting police and press (with some vile photography)
    2. Not ruin his life

  35. @B, Your first point, or rather two points are, as well as being incidental, incredibly vague. Are you suggesting that the “holistic” approach you advocate allows you and others to force the university into abandoning its existing rules and make ad-hoc decisions that run contrary to it’s current policies? I don’t recall making any claims to “just” being a paying customer, but I don’t think I subscribe to your version of studenthood either, as it seems to me to mean that the university should be pressured into purging what you personally regard as unsavoury elements, lest the rest of us be tarnished.

    As for the second point, perhaps I should make it clear that I wasn’t suggesting that English law actually applies to the university, but rather was making a point about what recognised courts view as important when guaranteeing a fair trial. Nowhere did I suggest that you can’t have an opinion on the case, but that isn’t what you’re advocating is it? You didn’t say the university “should have”, you said “should”, and then disagreed that their verdict should be the end of it. The distinction between having an opinion as a bystander and trying to actually influence ongoing events is what I was getting at when I raised this point.

  36. If he’d put a sticky mousetrap pad underneath the fridge and trapped a mouse, which then died of starvation and dehydration while trying fruitlessly to escape, nothing would have happened to him at all. Double standards abound. A trial and disciplinary action for frying a hamster? Really?

  37. @John
    The comments section isn’t a fair place to label what i’m saying as vague (it’s hardly the place to provide a detailed account of how one thinks the university should go about its business). Moreover, your comments about the procedures of the university, which you seem to think are correct, are hardly precise.
    The holistic approach I advocate is, simply put, the view that the university should care about the actions of its students, since they are connected to the university as a whole, and that the university should investigate when a student behaves in a way that is illegal or offensive: whether in a lecture hall or at an off campus house party. This approach is adopted by many places of work, and since Jamie is a grown adult, I see no reason why the same approach should not be adopted by a university.
    The claim that I want to purge the university of students I personally deem unsavoury is also unwarranted, and exaggerated. At no point did I say I think that Jamie should be purged: I said that I think the university should act by considering the views of students, whatever their position on the issue may be, and deciding on an appropriate course of action. Please don’t imply that I want to impose my personal views onto the university. Rather, I think the university should investigate the issue since it not only concerns an offence of the law, but an offence of some students (and members of the public, as evidenced by comments on national news websites).
    As a final, less important point, I agree that students should know what will happen if a student is caught taking drugs, stealing etc. However, I don’t expect the university to make explicit what it will do should a student be caught frying a pet.

  38. @Question Time
    You forgot the third option – call the police because he committed a crime, and risked ruining his own life in doing so. Please don’t tell me you think anyone but Jamie is responsible for the consequences of his actions?

  39. 8 Mar ’13 at 9:05 pm


    I’m afraid you’re referring to the first option.

    What if he was acting in a dangerous manner? You don’t just have a drunken laugh by frying a pet hamster to death. That is seriously weird and creepy, so I think you’d be forgiven for calling the university/police on him.

  41. 8 Mar ’13 at 9:25 pm


    I was honestly just wondering whether the thought crossed his housemates’ minds about whether or not to get the police involved and potentially ruin this poor guy’s life. Nobody said it’s okay to start frying household pets for a drunken laugh.

  42. @B
    Firstly, you say that my understanding of how the university carries out its disciplinary matters are “hardly precise”, but offer no elaboration. Then you make a statement about how the uni should act with regards to criminal cases that totally misses the point of my last two comments, which is that there is a distinction between petitioning for a rule change that applies in future cases and attempting to involve yourself in the ongoing disciplinary matter in one of your peers. I explicitly stated earlier that any viewpoint with regards to the former should expect to be at least heard, if not listened to (I have a feeling that the uni regards you more as a “just” a paying customer than you might like to think). As to last point, you claim to agree, although find it comparatively unimportant, that students involved in drugs and thefts should be dealt with consistently and with transparency, but feel that in criminal cases for which there is no conspicuous precedent we should allow outraged students to help define the agenda. Why don’t we just say that if enough students, or readers of the press (I presume you mean the Daily Mail) are offended, then such issues will be put to a YUSU run referendum?

  43. @asdf

    We should count ourselves lucky that after a night’s drinking no one let slip that they fancied a hot-dog.

  44. Yea so what. A man fried meat and bones. People deep fry chicken legs everyday, and we love it x

  45. I hope somewhere in a parallel universe at hamster just got a fine for frying him.

    what a bellend

  46. 11 Mar ’13 at 1:52 pm

    margo preston

    What a sick individual and some of the responses are a bit sick too. Anyone who tries to justify this is a sicko as well. He looks like a typical stuck up tory (with a smell under his nose) will probably see the twat in government in a few years TIME. He needs WATCHING!!!!! I WOULD BE SOOO ASHAMED IF HE WAS MY RELATIVE

  47. 12 Mar ’13 at 1:31 pm

    Quinton Fortune

    @margo preston

    To assume someone is a “typical stuck up tory” just from looking at him is incredibly naive and judgmental. No one is denying what he did was sick and wrong, but to link this to him potentially being a Tory is ridiculous and ultimately incredibly stupid.

  48. What a dreadful incident. Really awful.

    And it’s interesting that the management don’t hesitate to kick people out of the university for not being able to pay their rent, but this person is allowed to stay.

  49. Even moderate delays in payment aren’t tolerated, so I hear. They can certainly clamp down on people when it suits them.

  50. Fried Hamster is a delicacy where I come from. Is this guy opening up next to Oki’s?

  51. 14 Mar ’13 at 6:56 pm

    Lord Almighty David Hanney

    What? Did he play squash with it first?

  52. You can buy live crab for under three pounds from the Chinese supermarket in town, which to consume you have to murder by boiling alive. Crabs are larger and more harmless than hamsters, and super delicious.

  53. @Tom
    I appreciate the argument that killing crabs in this way is cruel, but do you not think there is a moral distinction, relevant to this issue, between (a)killing an animal for food and (b)killing an animal for fun?

  54. @M
    I think the entire thing is a farcical car-crash. How do we know he wasn’t frying it for a late-night snack? Why do we assume it was an act of sadistic hedonism? What’s the difference? Why do mammals have more ‘moral’ rights than crustaceans? The underwhelming evidence points absolutely nowhere.

  55. @Tom
    We may not know that he wasn’t planning on eating the hamster, but come on, that’s a weak point, and his sadism is kind of implicit in his being charged for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Also, what underwhelming evidence…show me…and what is the relevance of the rights of mammals vs. crustaceans? My point was about the distinction between killing any animal for a use i.e. nutrition, vs. killing any animal for fun. I accept that both can be considered cruel, but do think there’s grounds for saying that the latter is more so. Your point also doesn’t override the fact that the hamster was someone’s pet – the property rights of its owner have to factor in as well – just as they would if someone fried your phone.

  56. I didn’t understand this at all. How can you be so drunk you can’t remember what happened yet some how remember the hamster was dead before you fried it? Still he has a criminal record forever now, I hope it was worth it, I am sure employers will be lining up

  57. Quack

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