A boozy dad bought a 15ft PYTHON from a gypsy before taking it home where it tried to EAT his friend “in a scene from a Guy Ritchie film,” a court heard.
Hungover Dwayne Matthews, 29, awoke the morning after a heavy drinking session to find the huge snake “rearing up with it’s jaws open” ready to pounce on his pal who was asleep on the sofa.
Matthews had bought the 14kg beast, called Bruce, the night before from a traveller with the intention of selling it on to fund his new guttering business.
A court heard Matthews woke up on January 11 to find the python rearing up in an S-shape about to sink its fangs into his friend.
Panicking Matthews managed to throw a blanket over the snake before bundling it into a glass cage.
The next day he tried to flog the giant African rock snake to a local reptile shop who called police when they became suspicious.
Matthews was handed an eight week prison sentence suspended for two years when he admitted receiving stolen goods at Coventry Magistrates Court last Friday.
The court heard the python had been stolen along with eight others from an out-house in Hillfields, Coventry.
Richard Baker, defending, told JPs: “Mr Matthews was drinking at a house in Willenhall with friends.
“A van pulled up and a traveller offered for sale this 10 to 15ft-long rock snake.
“In his wisdom, and no doubt egged on by his inebriated friends, he decided it would be a good idea to buy it and sell it.
“The next morning he realised it hadn’t been such a good idea.
“He got up, went into the lounge, where the snake was being kept, to find one of his friends asleep on the sofa and this snake rearing up at him in an S-shape, its jaws open like a cobra.
“Instead of running out of the house, as some would have done, and leaving his friend to his fate, he apprehended this snake.
“He ran upstairs, got a quilt and thew it over the snake to subdue it and put it back in the tank. It was like a sub-plot from a Guy Ritchie film.
“He didn’t decide to get rid of it by dumping it in a bin, he was doing the best he could to remedy the situation.
“After going to the shop they were going to give it to Twycross Zoo.”
Police warned local stores about the raid and when Matthews attempted to offload the snake to KBN Reptiles they called police.
African rock snakes, the world’s third largest snake, are constrictors which attack animals as big as crocodiles and antelopes, suffocating them in their coils before swallowing them whole.
One even devoured a ten-year-old boy in South Africa in 2007.
Sentencing him, magistrates said: “This was a bit of a foolhardy enterprise.”
Matthews was also told to pay £85 costs and an #80 victim surcharge and ordered to undergo eight weeks supervision.
The python was later reunited with his owner, David Chance, 24, from Hillfields.
David said: “We normally feed him a dead rabbit one week and a dead rat the next.
“He’s usually so gentle and but whoever took him had handled him wrong. He had two holes in his head and he was badly bruised.
Bruce’s owner David Chance, known as Tom, said Dwayne Matthews would have had a battle to get the snake into a bag.
The 24-year-old builder said: “He’s a big snake and he’s very strong so I have no idea how they managed to get him in a bag to take him to the pet shop.
“Bruce is as docile and sweet as they get, he’s happy to be handled by anyone, but he’s a massive snake and if he wants to he could easily take down a human.
“The people who stole the snakes, and they took nine of them in total, knew exactly what they were coming for and how to deal with the snakes.
“They nicked a load of my electronic equipment that I was using to start a breeding programme so I don’t know how I will afford to keep the snakes now.
“Bruce has only actually eaten once since the day he was returned, that’s what happens to snakes when they suffer a shock like this, they stop eating.
“There were several holes on the top of his head that have started to heal now as well so he’s still not right since it happened.
“When the snakes went missing I told the local pet stores about them and they called me as soon as the guys tried to sell them Bruce.
“They had brought Bruce in big bag so they must have known something about snakes to get him into that bag.”