#TheList Bridget Louise Cole (aka Bridget Farley-Smith), born 17/11/1982, previously of Debden Green, Ely, Cambridgeshire but more recently (2019) of Whitemill Road, Chatteris PE16 6PG, and Peter John Grant, born 31/03/1986, of Station Road, Manea, March PE15 0HE – tortured a rabbit to death
Charity worker Bridget Cole, who was also a cub scout leader, laughed as she dunked a rabbit named Lucky in a bucket of bleach and water and hit him repeatedly with a metal pole. The male lop was also burned with a cigarette lighter during a sick party.
Accomplice Peter Grant, who was tried separately, finally ended the rabbit’s agony by bludgeoning him to death with a glass bottle.
Cole had denied the charge of cruelly ill-treating Lucky and claimed she had tried to save him from the actions of others, but this cut no ice with the court who also noticed her lack of remorse.
Grant in the meantime claimed he had nothing to do with putting the rabbit in bleach and said he had hit him with a bottle to “put him out of his misery”.
Sentencing: Cole – two-month suspended prison sentence; £1,500 costs. Banned from keeping any animal for 25 years (expires 2030).
Grant – 100 hours’ community service; £300 costs. Five-year ban (expired 2010).
#TheList Rosalind Gregson, born circa 1950, originally from Silverdale, Carnforth and as of 2018 living at 1 Laister Court, Bare Lane, Morecambe LA4 6LJ – kept 271 animals in her home in appalling conditions
Gregson originally faced 69 cruelty charges after RSPCA officers discovered 246 dogs, 16 birds, five cats, two kittens, a rabbit and a chinchilla when they raided her detached cottage in September 2003.
She admitted nine charges of causing unnecessary suffering to two Yorkshire terriers, three Shih Tzus, a Bichon Frise, an Old English sheepdog, and two Lhasa Apsos. Five of them had to be put to sleep to end their suffering.
A district judge at Preston magistrates’ court heard that when the RSPCA team raided Gregson’s £500,000 detached house at Silverdale, near Carnforth, Lancs, they were initially “overwhelmed” by the stench of ammonia and faeces. They found the animals living in virtually unlit, rat-infested rooms with little water and food. Most of the water they did have was contaminated with cat litter.
District judge Peter Ward was shown an RSPCA video which showed officers viewing the “dismal and depressing conditions”. The camera pans from cage to cage, showing dogs barely able to sit up. One RSPCA officer is heard to say: “How can they live in this? This is appalling.”
Some of the dogs are lifted out of their cages and held up in view of the camera. One, a Maltese terrier, is shown with her fur matted with what appears to be excrement. An officer says: “She’s in a terrible state.”
Another, a Shih-tzu, has matted fur and appears emaciated. Its weakness and reluctance to stand is attributed by a vet to the muscle wasting in its hind legs. The animal was later put down.
An emaciated Yorkshire terrier had a discharge coming from both eyes. Few of its teeth remained, its nails were overgrown and it had a severe skin infection. It, too, had to be put down.
Tim Bergin, prosecuting, said: “It is not the prosecution case that she maliciously caused cruelty to the animals in her home; simply that she allowed her obsession to collect animals to overwhelm her.”
Gregson initially denied 49 counts of failing to provide the animals with necessary care and attention but later changed her plea and admitted nine counts of causing them unreasonable suffering.
Gregson’s lawyer told the court her client’s obsessive animal collecting began when her son died from a drug overdose 15 years earlier. She said: “This is wholly about a tragic set of circumstances. It’s about sadness, it’s about isolation, it’s about the loss of a child, it’s about despair, it’s about obsession. The list just goes on and on.”
Asked why there were so many animals in the house, Gregson told police: “Because it got out of hand, its just an obsession, I couldn’t stop.”
RSPCA Inspector Sarah Hayland said the scene she found was beyond belief.
“It’s a normal looking property from the outside — and then to be faced with the room full of dogs.
“And we had no idea how many animals were in there, right until the second day when we’d been in all the rooms.
“It’s just the enormity of it, the amount of animals involved is something that I’ve never come across before and hope never to again”.
Sentencing: Jailed for three months – later altered to a three year Community Rehabilitation Order. Disqualified from keeping animals for life.
#TheList Karen Fox, born 31/05/1964, and as at November 2019 of 24 Haslam Grove, Shipley BD18 1PQ – tortured a six-week-old puppy before strangling him
Bradford magistrates heard Karen Fox had also committed “evil” and “sickening” acts of cruelty against other animals in the past. They told Fox it was their duty to jail her.
Fox had admitted strangling to death the six-week-old Jack Russell puppy the day after she had bought him as a birthday present for her young daughter.
She wept uncontrollably as she was imprisoned for 60 days and was led away in hysterics.
The court was told Fox, who pleaded guilty to a charge of animal cruelty, suffered from depression. Magistrates were urged by her solicitor not to jail her.
However, bench chairman Granville Dobson, passing sentence after reading a pre-sentence report, said: “You have harmed animals in the past in the most appalling fashion. The reports we have just read are beyond belief. The acts of evil described in them are sickening.
“This bench would not be filling its duty if it did not treat these offences extremely seriously.”
The court was told how Fox had killed the puppy the day after she had bought him for her daughter’s birthday. Nigel Monaghan, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Fox had bought the dog for £150 but attacked him when she could not get to sleep because of his crying.
It was alleged that sadistic Fox tortured the puppy before finally killing him by strangulation.
The court heard how the puppy’s body was found wrapped in a blood-stained towel by a neighbour who tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The RSPCA was called and Mr Monaghan said that when questioned Fox fully admitted what she had done.
Fox, then of Sutton Avenue, Swain House, Bradford, told the RSPCA: “It was whining and yelping. I picked it up and strangled it. I stopped when it had gone limp.”
Arshad Mahmood, mitigating, had urged the magistrates to impose a community penalty.
He said Fox, who had no previous convictions, suffered from a mental health condition known as emotional unstable personality disorder which makes her feel down all the time.
He said she had suffered from the condition since she was 15 and had twice tried to take her own life when she was aged 17.
Mr Mahmood told the magistrates that Fox was devastated by her actions but had been feeling extremely unwell at the time of the offence in August 2004 and has since been receiving treatment at Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford.
The court heard that Fox had been receiving hate mail since the court case began and that her 12-year-old daughter had been bullied at school as a result of the incident.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “This sentence is a significant indication that the court took this offence extremely seriously.
“It was a tragic and horrible incident but also an act of cruelty. This is not acceptable and clearly the court took that view as well.
“This type of cruelty to animals is very rare.
“The majority of cases dealt with by the RSPCA are people who have failed to do something for their animal.
“Instances of actual physical attacks on animals are in a minority although they are on the increase which is a worrying concern.”
Sentencing: jailed for 60 days. Banned from having custody of any animal for the rest of her life.