Erskine, Renfrewshire: Steven Riddell

#TheList Steven Riddell, born 22/09/1971, of 38 Park Green, Erskine PA8 7HJ – kept mice, rats and rabbits in appalling conditions to feed to his pet snakes

Steven Riddell
Steven Riddell

Animal cruelty inspectors found 130 creatures, including mice, rats and rabbits, kept in filthy conditions by father-of-four Steven Riddell.

Riddell used his greenhouse to breed the rodents as “live” food for the 50 snakes which filled a room of his home.

A seasoned SSPCA inspector was sickened by what they found at Riddell’s mid-terraced house in Erskine, following a tip-off in April 2014.

It was stifling inside as a tarpaulin had been used to cover the virtual tomb in which the mice and rats were found, providing little ventilation or natural light to enter. Many were dead, dying, dehydrated, starving and stuck in their own faeces.

One of the inspectors could only remain inside for a brief moment as she had difficulty breathing.

One cage, which weighed 2kg (4lb) when clean and empty, was caked with a solid mass of droppings mixed with bedding that weighed almost 14kg (31lb).

Steven Riddell

Callous Riddell freely admitted he had seen the rodents as a cheap source of food for his prized snakes which, by comparison, appeared to be well cared for.

It was, said one of the investigators, “a night and day” situation.

Inside the greenhouse, rats and mice, some with young which were lying on top of faeces, and one half-entrapped in compacted droppings, were kept in squalor in cages stacked from floor to ceiling.

Two mice were alive but paralysed, while others were dead or dying.

In some of the cages, faeces and urine were found to be six to eight inches in depth.

The only traces of drinking water found was coated in green algae.

Some of the rats and mice were found to have bite and scratch marks and others had parts of their tails missing.

Many had respiratory problems and some were poking their noses out of gaps as they desperately tried to get a gasp of fresh air.

Rabbits, which were kept in similarly disgusting conditions in a nearby hutch, had been family pets.

They too, were found to be neglected and their coats were stained yellow from urine.

Riddell pleaded guilty to two contraventions of the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate care, nutrition, water and clean bedding

When quizzed by officers, unemployed Riddell accepted the conditions were disgusting and unacceptable but maintained he had “taken his eye off the ball” due to a series of family problems.

He said he knew that some of them were in poor health but hadn’t sought veterinary attention as they were “only food for my reptiles”.

A senior SSPCA inspector later said that in all of her many years of service, she had never seen animals being kept in such atrocious conditions.

She said she had felt disgusted to think that Riddell “saw them as nothing more than a cheap food source for his reptiles”, which appeared to be well cared for inside his house.

It was stated that Riddell had agreed to hand over ownership of all of the animals, many of which were put down, although some were nursed back to good health and re-homed.

Sentencing: jailed for 150 days and banned indefinitely from keeping animals except for the family dog.

Daily Record
BBC News

Oswestry, Shropshire: Quade Adams

#TheList Quade Roy Adams, born 07/06/1992, originally from Weston Rhyn, Oswestry, Shropshire, and more recently (2018) Y Bwthyn, Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales SY25 –  killed a five-month-old chocolate brown toy poodle called Emi and a seven-month-old ragdoll kitten, Toast

Photo composite showing Quade Adams and his victims puppy Emi and kitten Toast
Monster: Quade Roy Adams now of Tredegar, Wales, and his victims Emi and Toast

Emi suffered a chipped eye socket, broken pelvis and 3 broken ribs, resulting in her being put down. Toast had suffered abdominal injuries and a ruptured spleen, consistent with being stamped on and/or kicked.

Adams denied two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to Toast and one of causing unnecessary suffering to Emi but was found guilty.

Sentence: 12 weeks in jail, £500 contribution towards costs; indefinite ban on keeping animals (minimum five years).

Shropshire Star 20/05/2015

Wigton, Cumbria: Gordon Laverty

#TheList dog breeder Gordon Laverty, born 30/06/1970, originally from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, but as of 2019 living in Prospect, Aspatria, Wigton CA7 2LR – neglected and caused suffering to King Charles spaniels

Dog breeder from hell Gordon Laverty
Dog breeder from hell Gordon Laverty is originally from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland but now lives in Cumbria

Gordon Laverty admitted 10 animal welfare offences. They included four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs and six counts of failing to ensure the needs of animals he was responsible for were met.

Laverty’s neglect was discovered in June 2013 after a severely malnourished dog escaped and was taken to a vet.

A microchip resulted in council staff finding a number of animals at his home – all in poor condition.

The King Charles spaniels were said to be starving, unable to stand, and with badly matted coats.

Some of the dogs rescued from atrocious conditions at Gordon Laverty's filthy kennels
Some of the dogs rescued from atrocious conditions at Laverty’s filthy kennels

Animal lover Catherine Southwell set up the foster charity organisation Cavaliers in Need as a result of the case.

Recalling the state of the dogs, she said: “It was horrific, that’s the only way I can describe it.”

The court heard six dogs were handed over voluntarily

Dog breeder from hell Gordon Laverty

Defence counsel Michael Boyd told the court his client was “deeply ashamed about what happened to these animals in his care.”

According to the barrister Laverty has a “long record of keeping animals properly and humanely”.

He added that the defendant, who used a walking aid to get into court, has been suffering from a range of medical conditions.

Judge Nixon told Laverty: “It’s only on the basis that you have come to this court with an entirely clear record and entered pleas at an early opportunity that the 10-month sentence of imprisonment is suspended for two years.”

He also ordered: “You are banned from keeping any pets or animals of any kind for a period of 20 years.”

Laverty must pay veterinary costs and legal fees of just over £700 as part of the sentence.

Ms Southwell, who attended the hearing with other Cavaliers in Need volunteers, wept as the punishment was handed down.

Outside court she said: “Obviously we would have liked an immediate prison sentence, but the 20-year ban was good.”

Sentencing: 10 months in jail, suspended. Costs of £700. Banned from keeping any animals for 20 years (expires 2035).

Belfast Telegraph

Willenhall / Bilston / Birmingham, West Midlands: Chad Worgan, Jake Higgs, Thomas Knox

#TheList Chad Paul John Worgan, born November 1995, of Moxhull Gardens, Willenhall WV12 5XX, Jake Higgs, born February 1992, of Walnut Close, Bilston WV14 8QJ and Thomas James Knox, born July 1995, previously of Dudley Fields, Bloxwich, and more recently (September 2020) of White Road, Quinton, Birmingham B32 2AE -squeezed, kicked and battered dozens of rare birds to death

Chad Worgan, Jake Higgs and Thomas Knox
L-R Chad Worgan, Jake Higgs and Thomas Knox

The trio of Chad Worgan, Tom Knox and Jake Higgs, together with a 16-year-old youth from Erdington who wasn’t named for legal reasons, stole the birds from an aviary in Brownhills, Walsall, belonging to Mr Lee Williams, and bundled them into sacks and containers. The thugs then took them to Dolphin House in Goscote, Walsall.

Once inside the building, the birds were emptied onto the landing. From there, the abuse got underway although police believe a lot were already dead at that stage. CCTV revealed the horror as the rare birds were tortured to death.

One of the yobs can be seen smirking and then appearing to aim a kick at an innocent bird as others are scattered across the floor.

Stills of CCTV footage showing Chad Worgan attacking birs

Other footage shows birds being chased by a dog, jammed into drawers and squeezed to death. Some were posted through letterboxes and dropped through people’s windows.

Worgan admitted an offence of receiving stolen goods and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal on the basis that he kicked a pigeon.

It was said there was a ‘sick grin across his face’ as he appeared to be enjoying what he was doing, appearing to grab one of the perched birds and visibly squeeze it.

A dog was let into the flat and terrorised the birds. The animal belonged to Knox.

Knox was criticised for spending most of the trial giggling with his co-accused in the dock. He denied causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and receiving stolen goods, along with the 16-year-old.

Higgs admitted receiving stolen goods but denied causing unnecessary suffering. Magistrates found all four guilty of the charges after the trial.

Knox was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, receiving stolen goods, common assault and using threatening words or behaviour.

The latter charges related to his behaviour towards a dog warden and housing staff when he was told his dog was going to be taken away.

Vaughn Whistance, defending, said Knox was a vulnerable young man who suffered with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

Co-accused Jake Higgs was also due to learn his fate but failed to show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Chairman of the bench, Mr Bob Thomas, said the youths’ actions amounted to ‘joint enterprise’. He added CCTV showed all of them playing some part in the birds’ suffering.

Rare bird breeder Mr Williams had built up his collection of rare jays, finches, doves, budgerigars, quails and pigeons over a number of years.

Maggie Meakin, prosecuting, said it would cost £1,500 to replace the birds, and added: ‘He cannot afford to replace the birds and he cannot claim on the insurance.’

Sentence: Worgan and Knox were jailed for six months and ordered to pay compensation. The 16-year-old minor was given an 18-month rehabilitation order. No details are available on Jake Higgs’ sentencing.

Express and Star

Calshot, Southampton: Jennifer Maslen

#TheList serial animal abuser Jennifer Maslen, born c. 1958, most recent known address Tristan Close, Calshot, Southampton SO45 1BN – lived in a dirty, cramped caravan with seven dogs

Repeat animal abuser Jennifer Maslen was living in a 'dirty' and 'cramped' caravan in Southampton with seven dogs
Repeat animal abuser Jennifer Maslen was living in a ‘dirty’ and ‘cramped’ caravan in Southampton with seven dogs

RSPCA inspectors discovered Jennifer Maslen, who is known to have two previous convictions for animal cruelty, was living in a “dirty” and “cramped” caravan that smelt of urine with seven dogs.

One of the dogs was suffering with a skin infection, which had caused him to lose his hair. Another had open wounds on his neck and leg. Neither dog had been taken to the vet. The court heard that she had treated one dog with medication that was more than ten years out of date and contained arsenic.

One of Jennifer Maslen's victims lurcher Mandy, who was taken into RSPCA care in June 2014 over concerns she had a skin infection
Lurcher Mandy was taken into RSPCA care in June 2014 over concerns she had a skin infection

Maslen, who is originally from New Zealand and has used the names Cassidy Sinclair, Polly Campbell and Lisa Ballard in the past, had already been banned from keeping animals in Ireland and also has a lifetime UK ban on keeping horses under the name Jennifer Nowell Brooks (apparently she killed a horse by slitting his throat though we can’t find details of the case to confirm this).

This time she was accused of failing to provide a safe, clean and suitable environment for seven dogs and failed to meet the needs of three dogs by not seeking adequate treatment for them.

After concerns were raised about dogs living in the caravan in December 2013, RSPCA Inspector Patrick Bailey visited to assess the dogs.

Giving evidence, Inspector Bailey said one dog, a lurcher called Reggie, had lost 40% of his fur and had “red raw” skin.

Four of Maslen’s dogs raised no concerns, but a greyhound named Pooh Bear had a large wound to his neck and another on his leg, which Maslen said was caused by a fox fight.

Maslen told him she had not taken either dog to the vet because she had been treating them herself. This included a treatment for cattle which expired in 2002 and tablets prescribed for a dog she no longer had.

Inspector Bailey said: “One of the products being used isn’t even designed for dogs so I would expect a reasonable person to consult a vet.”

Concerned about so many dogs of that size living inside such a small space, Inspector Bailey inspected the caravan, which he described as “dirty and grubby” and smelt of ammonia.

He was told the room at the front of the 18ft caravan was the “poo room” for the dogs and found conditions “wholly unsuitable”.

All six dogs were taken into the care of the RSPCA.

Prosecutor Mrs Wheadon also told the court that another of Maslen’s dogs, a lurcher called Mandy, was taken into RSPCA care in June 2014 over concerns she had a skin infection and was being left for up to nine hours a day.

Giving evidence Maslen told the court she had taken Reggie off someone else after she found him living in “horrific” conditions.

She said she feared going to a vet as she felt she was in a “vulnerable” position.

When under cross examination about the conditions in the caravan she insisted there was enough space for the dogs to be comfortable.

She added that she did take Mandy to a vet but not Pooh Bear as he was not displaying any changes in behaviour.

Sentencing: 12-month prison sentence suspended tor 24 months. £2,000 costs. 10-year ban on keeping dogs (expires May 2025). Deprivation order on her remaining dogs.

Previous cruelty case from May 2008 when Maslen lived in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, Ireland.

Jennifer Maslen then known as Cassidy Sinclair
Jennifer Maslen then known as Cassidy Sinclair

Maslen, who at the time was known as Cassidy Sinclair and ran a dog rescue centre, was found guilty of cruelty to more than 40 animals under her care.

The Irish court heard that the dogs were living in a 12-inch deep “slurry mixture” of their own excrement and urine and that many of them had open wounds requiring immediate surgery.

Sergeant John Malone, of Abbeyleix Garda Station, told the court that on entering Ms Sinclair’s house he “had to go back out a few times on point of vomiting due to the smell of faeces and dog urine.”

He said there was a pile of dog faeces in the kitchen measuring two-foot high by four-foot wide and that there were “animal bones scattered on the floor”.

Brendan Hughes, animal welfare inspector with the ISPCA said he called to Ms Sinclair’s house on March 12, 2008.

Mr Hughes said he found 20 dogs living in a compound measuring 20ft by 30ft and a small garden shed.

He said there were also many dogs living in horrific conditions inside Ms Sinclair’s house.

Dogs at the so-called rescue centre operated by Maslen, then known as Cassidy Sinclair, were found living in horrifying conditions
Dogs at the so-called rescue centre operated by Maslen, then known as Cassidy Sinclair, were found living in horrifying conditions

Many of the dogs had bite wounds caused through fighting over the bones and that there was no fresh water left out for the animals.

Mr Hughes returned to Sinclair’s house the following day accompanied by gardai and a vet and seized 27 dogs.

The ISPCA subsequently seized a further 19 dogs from Sinclair in follow-up searches.

David Fagan, the vet who attended the scene, told the court that 12 of the dogs needed urgent treatment to wounds and that eight required stitches and five required antibiotic treatment for infections.

Mr Fagan said the dogs had been “living in fear and distress” and they had been allowed to “suffer unnecessarily”.

Ms Sinclair told the court she had been “running a dog rescue of sorts” and that from January to March of 2008 “things went berserk”.

She said she sought help from rescue groups including the ISPCA but that she did not receive any.

She told the court she “was going nuts” and that people were leaving dogs tied to her gateposts.

Judge Haughton said he had never seen anything like this in his 17 years on the bench and said there was evidence of long-term neglect of the dogs in Ms Sinclair’s care.

He fined Ms Sinclair €500 and prohibited her from keeping any dog again for the rest of her life. Sinclair later appealed unsuccessfully and a six-month suspended prison sentence was applied to her sentence.

Lytham St Annes, Lancashire: Stephanie Curwen

#TheList Stephanie Kathleen Carol Curwen, born 12/01/1991, of 17 Walter Avenue, Lytham St Annes FY8 3DR – deliberately let her dog off his lead and goaded him to chase and kill a kitten

Stephanie Curwen from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. deliberately set her dog on a 6mo cat, killing him
Stephanie Curwen from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. deliberately set her dog on this 6mo cat, killing him

In July 2014 Curwen was captured on CCTV walking her dog Duke near her home in St Annes, Lancashire, when her neighbour’s black cat emerged.

Curwen, who had Duke on a lead, released him after watching him lunge towards the Bengal cat, named Regi, and then laughed as he chased him.

After clawing Regi, down from the top of a gate, Duke carried him in his mouth until passing neighbours intervened.

Regi later died from two puncture wounds in the neck.

Mother-of-three Curwen admitted causing an animal to fight and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The court heard how she made no attempt to rein in her dog when he began snapping at the small cat.

RSPCA prosecutor Jonathan Fail said: ‘Throughout the whole of the attack, the female made no attempt to stop it.  In effect she seemed to be encouraging the whole incident.’

Curwen was given a 24 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months 

Mr Fail said a man who saw the attack tried to intervene and save Regi after he saw him in Duke’s mouth.  The dog was shaking the kitten and, after he was forced to drop him, the cat only lived for a few minutes.

The witness said Curwen was saying “naughty dog” but her words had no real meaning.

When Curwen was questioned about the incident she said she had only had the dog a week and did not know what he was like and did not know his temperament.

She told RSPCA investigators that after the incident people had gone round to her home shouting and screaming at her.

A vet carried out a post mortem on Regi and found he had died from two puncture wounds, one of which caused a pulmonary haemorrhage.

Mr Fail said: “It was a trauma which caused the kitten significant suffering and pain.”

Speaking outside court, Regi’s owner said she would rather have seen the woman go to jail after being told the attack – which lasted six minutes – was over ‘in a split second’.

‘I’m happy about the ban but she should have gone to prison for what she did,’ said Lesley-Anne Brockleburst

‘Hopefully then it might sink in what she did, and how cruel it was. She’s not sorry for her actions, she hasn’t gone out of her way to apologise to me and my family.

‘She seemed to be getting a lot of pleasure out of it so maybe it’s not the first time she’s done something like this.’

Convinced it was Curwen’s encouragement and not the animal’s disposition which led to the attack, Mrs Brockleburst said she was happy the dog had been re-homed.

‘I have never wanted the dog to be destroyed. It was quite clear that it was only doing what it was told to do.’

24-week suspended jail sentence; total of £280 costs and charges. Ten-year ban on the owning of all animals (expires May 2025). 

Daily Mai