#TheList Frances Cooke, born August 1984, of 6D Scalpay Terrace, Oban PA34 4YH – starved a black Labrador named Bree to the extent that the dog collapsed in agony and had to be put to sleep
Cooke admitted failing to provide adequate food and water to the five-year-old dog at her home between August and December 2013.
When Bree collapsed on December 6, 2013, Cooke took her to Oban Veterinary Surgery, claiming she found her wandering in the Soroba area of the town.
During examination Bree was semi-conscious. Her ribs and pelvis were pronounced and she was crying out in pain and distress.
It was felt the kindest option was to put her to sleep.
Cooke was later traced by Scottish SPCA inspectors who called at her house on December 11, 2013.
She burst into tears and admitted ownership.
Defence solicitor Jane Thomson said the mother-of-two began to neglect the dog in August 2013 when she and her partner split up.
She said: “The dog was bought as a puppy as a family pet five years ago. She looked after it along with her children and partner for four-and-a-half years. The catalyst seems to be the end of her 11-year relationship with her partner.
“At the time of the offence she was suffering from depression. She essentially lived in a bubble which included her and her children. She spent little time at the property because it reminded her of the relationship. The dog was left at home.
“She has received hate mail and has had to go to the police.”
Sheriff Douglas Small told Cooke: “This is an extremely distressing case and it has caused considerable outrage in the local community as I am sure you are aware.
“A number of people have written to the sheriff clerk’s office about the case expressing their outrage.
“Your neglect of this animal caused it to starve to death in great pain and it had to be put to sleep”.
Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Iain Allan said after the hearing: “We welcome the sentence passed to Frances Cooke following our investigation.
“In our opinion, a lifetime ban is the only way to prevent other dogs suffering in her care.”
Sentencing: 160 hours of unpaid work in the community. Disqualified for life from keeping or owning a dog.
#TheList Alastair ‘Ali’ Graham (DoB 14/11/1990) of 51 Lawson Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife KY1 3LB – tied a Staffy cross named Bruno to a tree, stabbed him then burned him to death
Graham was looking after Bruno (pictured) for a friend in April 2014, when he claims he was bitten. In a blind rage he tied the dog to a tree and initially attempted to slit his throat and stab him to death. When this failed, Graham went to a nearby petrol station and filled up a jerry can before pouring it over the terrified dog. He then set Bruno alight — causing horrific full thickness burns to the defenceless animal. A post-mortem showed that Bruno was still alive when set on fire.
Larry Flynn, of Flynn & Co Solicitors, Dundee, defending Graham, said: “This was a serious offence but he has co-operated with the process throughout.
“He has a vague recollection of doing this but was abusing alcohol at the time.
“His recollection is that he attempted to kill it with a knife but he failed and he went to get the petrol then returned.
Graham pleaded guilty on indictment to causing the dog unnecessary suffering by causing his death in the fire. He further admitted an attempted knife robbery committed alongside Steven Gourdie on 2 May, 2014 in Leven’s High Street.
Sentence: jailed for nine months for the dog’s death and 36 months for his part in a later attempted robbery; banned from keeping animals for life.
#TheList serial wildlife and pet abusers Joshua Robert Percy Varey, born 26/02/1990, of Duke Street, Colne; Shaun Mullens, born 11/11/1991, of 19 Dean Street, Trawden, Colne; Paul Ashworth, born 14/10/1967, of 31 Tennyson Road, Colne – shook a cat out of a tree so their dogs could attack it
Josh Varey and accomplices Shaun Mullens and Paul Ashworth laughed as they set their dogs on other terrified animals so they could make ‘trophy’ videos for a dog-fighting racket.
Varey filmed Mullens and Ashworth climbing up a tree and trying to shake a cat out of its branches so that their dogs could maul it.
Varey and Mullens also filmed a horrifying incident in which they used one of their dogs to attack a badger after digging into its sett.
Magistrates saw DVD footage in which Varey could be heard laughing as distressed animals yelped in terror. In one attack, caught on film, a voice was heard saying ‘It’s dead’ before a badly injured badger crawled away.
The court had heard that police and RSPCA officers found the DVD during dawn raids at 11 homes across Pendle in summer 2013, in which officers seized three lurchers, two terriers and a lurcher/bull terrier cross, as well as computers, mobile phones, cash and drugs equipment
The operation followed a 12-month evidence gathering operation into badger digging, deer poaching, hare coursing and offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
In October 2013, six cats were killed by lurchers in attacks in Colne over three days. Police said the incidents were known as ‘cat coursing’, where dogs were trained to kill domestic pets before going poaching or badger baiting.
Magistrates heard that Varey, who bought and sold dogs for profit, and bred them to fight other animals, had injured and scarred dogs in cages outside at his home and was proud that his animals were ‘adept at fighting.’
Phones found at Varey’s house contained animal baiting videos, photographs of animals, and messages about ‘doing holes’, ‘going out with the terriers’ and ‘going digging’.
The prosecutor said: ‘ We suggest that this is talking about about putting dogs down holes to get at animals.’
He said there were photographs showing a scarred dog, a dog with blood around its mouth, and a photograph of a fox and fox cub.
When interviewed, Ashworth claimed he was only doing what he was told when he was shaking the tree a cat had run up.
The cat was forced to run quickly up another tree to get away from the dogs, and said the cat would have been terrified.
When Varey was questioned, he didn’t deny any responsibility for the film on his phone but made no comment. Mullens admitted it was his dog in the badger fight video.
After the case, RSPCA Inspector Ian Briggs said: ‘These men showed absolutely no regard for any of the animals, including their own dogs.
‘This was cruelty in its most abhorrent form.’
Sentencing: Varey and Mullens were jailed for 126 and 114 days respectively and banned from keeping pets for ten years (expires July 2024). Ashworth was jailed for 76 days and banned from keeping animals for 5 years (expires July 2019).
In February 2018 serial offender Varey was charged with further animal cruelty offences alongside another man, Howard Bernard Lewin, born 20/12/67, of 6 Dickson Street, Colne.
The pair pleaded guilty to being present at an animal fight and causing unnecessary suffering to a ferret and a rat. Varey also faced an additional charge of breaching his disqualification order after two dogs were found at his home.
Speaking about this case RSPCA special investigation officer Jason Bowles said: “We were alerted to a really disturbing video that had been posted on Varey’s Facebook page,”
“In the video, a pet ferret is pitched against a wild rat in a hutch and they are urged to fight. The men are clearly encouraging the animals to fight and are shouting at the ferret, willing it on to attack the rat.
“The rat is frantically trying to escape, climbing the bars of the hutch and looking for a way out.
“The men tip and shake the hutch to try to encourage the animals to fight. There are a few clashes but generally the terrified animals cower in separate corners.
“In the video, one of the men can be heard shouting at the rat: ‘That’s disgusting, I hate them, f***ing rodent b***ards.
“We launched an investigation into the video once it had been brought to our attention but never found the rat or the ferret so, sadly, we don’t know what happened to them.
“However, we will not stand for this sort of disgusting behaviour and cruelty towards animals. We hope this case serves to show that we take online videos showing cruelty to animals very seriously and, where offences have been committed, we will take appropriate action.”
“In 2014, Mr Varey was disqualified from keeping animals for 10 years, having been convicted of animal fighting offences under the Animal Welfare Act,” SOU inspector Chris Heyworth said. “That ban is still in place.
“He came to our attention again after Cumbria Police were called to a field to reports of two men – one of whom was Mr Varey – stuck in the mud in their vehicle. They were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Deer Act 1991 and a mobile phone was seized.
“Material from that phone was passed to Lancashire Police who were investigating wildlife crime offences with RSPCA inspectors. Photos, video and texts on the phone suggested the men were still involved in wildlife crimes and, therefore, a warrant was executed at a property in Colne, Lancashire, on 28 September.
“Despite his ban, we found two dogs – both lurcher types – at the property. One of the dogs belonged to someone else but one was quite clearly his. We also found lots of evidence on a phone that showed he was participating in the keeping of dogs.”
The dog – called Nell – was seized and placed into RSPCA care.
Sgt Damian Pemberton, Lancashire Constabulary’s Rural Policing, Wildlife and Heritage Crime co-ordinator, said: “This sentence is testimony to the hard work of our rural officers who are committed to putting an end to the unnecessary suffering of animals.
“Those who mistreat animals and take part in these types of cruel activities will be tracked down and brought to justice.
“Josh Varey is a well-known animal abuser with previous convictions for animal cruelty.
“His conviction and sentence sends a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated and our dedicated rural officers will work hard to bring those responsible to justice.”
Sentencing: Varey was given a 16-week jail term, suspended for two years; ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 in costs. He was also disqualified from keeping all animals for 15 years (expires March 2033).
Lewin was given a 12-month community order with a rehabilitation requirement.