A TELE campaign to close the legal loophole which allowed the Gourock Pets' Corner killer to escape justice has secured a vital change in the law.

The Scottish Government has announced its intention to introduce an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Act which will remove a time bar restriction on prosecutions.

Police who investigated the 2011 Pets' Corner outrage found DNA evidence in 2013 directly linking a then-18-year-old man to the offence, and duly arrested him.

But prosecutors were powerless to take the case any further because the breakthrough in the case came more than six months after the commission of the crime.

Now — following our Justice for Pets campaign — the change to the legislation has been announced in the SNP administration's 2019/20 programme for government.

MSP Stuart McMillan, who backed the Telegraph's rallying cry and carried it forward in the Scottish Parliament, said: "The Animal Health and Welfare (Amendment) Bill is set to be introduced within this parliamentary year — delivering on the Greenock Telegraph's Justice For Pets campaign appeal for tougher sentences for the most serious animal welfare offences.

"Supporters should be proud that their pressure, along with the campaign by the Greenock Telegraph, will now help change animal welfare legislation for the better."

Over 5,400 people responded to the campaign — signing up at a rate of nearly 300-a-week — and helped us take our bulging petition to the corridors of power at Holyrood.

It came after a thug bludgeoned helpless creatures to death with a golf club while his dog crushed others, including tiny guinea pigs, between its jaws.

Elsewhere in the legislative programme, there are plans to tackle climate change with a £500 million investment in public transport, as well as a 'Green New Deal' to attract £3 billion of investment in environmentally friendly projects.

Mr McMillan said: "In just the last year we've increased NHS funding, increased teacher numbers and pay, and delivered brand new benefits through our Scottish Social Security Agency.

"The programme includes plans that will directly benefit Inverclyde, such as targeted support to prevent drug-related deaths, and the date for the first Scottish Child Payments being brought forward to Christmas 2020."

Further action is also set to be taken on single-use plastic products along with improvements to bus infrastructure and a Women's Health Plan.

As he welcomed the investments, Mr McMillan says the drak cloud on the horizon is Brexit and the impact it could have.

He said: "Although we are doing everything we can to move Scotland forward, the threat to our economy and our society posed by Boris Johnson's plan for a no deal Brexit remains."