#TheList Samantha Jade Miller, born 1978, of Victoria Rd, Poole BH12 – left dogs Charlie and Tia to suffer without food and failed to treat painful skin conditions while she enjoyed holidays in Cyprus
Single mother-of-six Miller told RSPCA officers she could not afford veterinary care for the emaciated animals.
But when an RSPCA inspector visited Miller’s home in Victoria Road, Poole, he was told by one of her daughters that she was in Cyprus for the third time in a year.
Miller pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals between November 15 2015 and January 5 2016. She also admitted failing to protect animals from pain and suffering, injury and disease.
Miller was visited four times by an RSPCA inspector who gave her advice and told her to feed the animals and take them to the vet.
But she failed to heed the advice and, when the condition of the dogs deteriorated, they were taken away from her.
Magistrates heard the RSPCA inspector had given Miller food for the dogs, but she criticised it.
The animals had painful skin conditions because they were “riddled” with fleas, open wounds, sores and conjunctivitis and were clearly incredibly uncomfortable and suffering, the court heard.
Miller told the court she was in debt and could not afford the vet. She said she was ashamed and did not realise the seriousness of their condition.
After the hearing, RSPCA inspector Jo Story told the Daily Echo: “I think it is an appropriate sentence. If she didn’t understand it was serious, she wouldn’t understand how to look after other animals.
“We really try to provide help and guidance and my colleague could not have done any more. She ignored the advice continually.”
Charlie and Tia recovered and were rehomed by the RSPCA.
Sentence: 240 hours of unpaid work; victim surcharge of £60; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires December 2026)
Elizabeth Richmond-Watson, owner of Owlsdene Bengals, was found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act of failing to protect 64 Bengal cats in her care because of a lack of disease control programme and appropriate hygiene provisions to prevent the spread of disease.
The RSPCA visited Richmond-Watson’s address in February 2016 after concerns were raised about the welfare of a number of cats bred to sell.
Inspectors found the property in a sordid state with cats roaming the “unhygienic” house and outbuildings.
Food had been left lying around and many of the animals were suffering from illnesses including cat flu and eye infections.
Three animals had to be put down at the scene and another four in the days afterwards due to health and behavioural issues.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Smith said: “When we arrived there were lots and lots of cats just roaming the house and the outbuildings, which had been built for breeding in completely unhygienic conditions.
“It was chaotic with clutter and rubbish and there was food lying around — a totally unsuitable environment for these cats to be living in.
“Sadly, the owner was just not providing proper care for these cats, leading to some extreme neglect.
“She may have had the best of intentions but the reality was the animals were suffering and we had to act to ensure there was no further suffering.”
Richmond-Watson will be able to appeal for her ban to be lifted after one year.
Sentence: 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months; 60 hours’ unpaid work; ordered to pay £10,000 costs plus victim surcharge; disqualified from keeping animals for three years (expires December 2019 but she could appeal in December 2017).
#TheList Dean Popham, born 31/08/1986, of 99 Wallace Road, Grays RM17 5BB – slit puppy Edley’s throat in the street after swinging him around by his neck
Popham killed Edley using a kitchen knife taken from a woman’s flat after leaving her with a cut lip.
The unemployed yob then fought with police officers and bit one on the thumb before they dragged him to the ground.
Loreen Hussain, prosecuting, said the horrific incident in Thames Road, Grays, in September 2016, was preceded by vile sexual threats Popham made over text message and Facebook.
He then stormed round to his victim’s flat in a rage, forced his way in and began kicking Edley.
She said: “The puppy, not knowing any better, was happy to see the defendant.
“He ran towards him but the defendant started kicking him, so much so that he lost one of his shoes.
“It was so bad that Edley lost control of his bowels. The young woman was screaming and told Popham to stop.
“He said; ‘I don’t care, he’s lucky I don’t throw him out the window.’”
Popham then picked Edley up by the ears and swung him around by his neck. “You can imagine the pain that he must have felt,” Miss Hussain said.
Popham headbutted his girlfriend before marching out of the flat clutching Edley and a knife.
The police officers who later found Popham covered in blood said he told them “meeting me is the worst mistake” before biting one of them.
Edley’s body was found nearby. A vet told police the wound would have caused Edley “pain, unnecessary suffering and distress”.
Miss Hussein said: “Not only did the victim have to deal with her own injuries and her upset children, but she had to deal with the death of a much-loved family pet.”
Popham, who has previous convictions for violence and cultivating cannabis, suffers from emotionally unstable personality disorder.
Popham was jailed for 12 months for causing actual bodily harm to his partner, six months for actual bodily harm to the police officer and two months for criminal damage to the dog, all to run consecutively.
He was handed one month each for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and assaulting a police officer, to run concurrently to each other and the other sentences.
Sentence for animal cruelty and assault: 20 months in prison (includes total of just 3 months for killing Edley)
#TheList Tyrone Davies, born c. 1994, of Cysgod Y Mynydd, High Street, Bangor LL57 1EA – inflicted blunt force trauma and physical violence on a young dog
Davies, who is a persistent violent offender, was prosecuted for cruelty after being spotted by a passer-by lifting his dog into the air by her collar and throwing her onto the ground as she yelped in pain. Miraculously, the dog – a brindle Staffy known as Stitch – escaped serious injury.
Despite the sadistic nature of his actions against a helpless dog and his history of violence, the courts failed to ban Davies from keeping animals and Stitch was returned to him.
Mike Pugh, RSPCA inspector, said: “Clearly, this dog was badly mishandled, and this man has faced the consequences for his actions. It’s a clear warning as to what can happen when pets are mistreated in this way.
“Owning a dog is a big, and very fortunate, responsibility.”
He added: “There are clear and important laws which must be followed to ensure the welfare of animals, and the RSPCA stands ready to enforce those laws to protect dogs like Stitch.
“Whilst the court ruled, on this occasion, that the man could keep his dog, we hope his guilty plea highlights how he has learned his lesson, and will treat his dog with the respect it deserves, and within the law, in the future.”
Sentence: £150 fine, £30 victim surcharge; £650 costs. No ban or deprivation order.
#TheList Bradley Michael Harris, born 04/09/1998, of 77 South Back Lane, Bridlington YO16 4AL – stabbed a Patterdale terrier to death
Harris, who has links to Lincoln, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a black Patterdale terrier-type dog called McGregor by stabbing the dog with a knife in July 2016.
RSPCA inspector Geoff Edmond said: “This was a horrendous incident which caused the suffering and death of a dog and enormous distress to the dog’s owners.
“Harris was one of four people who were drunk and causing a disturbance in the communal hallway of a block of flats in Wellington Road in Bridlington, where two of them lived.
“The group were confronted by McGregor’s owners, a man and a woman who also lived there, about the noise they were making.
“The door to their home was kicked in and their two dogs escaped into the hallway.
“McGregor was stabbed twice by Harris. Veterinary evidence suggests he was held down when this happened. He managed to escape and was found a few minutes later, collapsed in a pool of blood under a table. He died from his injuries in the arms of one of his owners.”
Sentence: four months in jail; £125 victim surcharge; disqualified from keeping animals for five years (expires December 2021).
#TheList Michael ‘Mikey’ Harris, born 06/11/1992, of North Drum Street, Kelty, Fife KY4 0EB – left a Staffordshire bull terrier to starve in a cage surrounded by squalor;
A sheriff told Michael Harris that the condition that the starving dog, known as Milo, was found in was “disgraceful”.
The animal, whose bones were showing through his skin, was kept in a cage surrounded by squalor.
Harris admitted that on 11 April 2016 at Leny Place, Dunfermline, North Drum Street, Kelty and elsewhere, being responsible for a dog, he failed to take steps to ensure the needs of the animal were met by failing to provide a suitable environment.
He failed to provide adequate drinking water and food, exposed the dog to faeces, urine, household waste and debris including a broken mirror and controlled substance paraphernalia.
He also failed to provide adequate exercise and adequate care and treatment for the dog’s coat.
Depute fiscal Dev Kapadia said the police had been called to the premises in Leny Place in connection with another matter. They entered by removing a door panel and as the officers entered, Milo and the other dog ran out.
“One of the officers, a police sergeant said in his statement that on looking around it was without doubt one of the worst premises he’d seen in almost 20 years in his job,” Mr Kapadia told the court.
“The stench was overpowering and the front door had to be kept ajar to allow in fresh air and for the flies to get out,” added the depute.
Officers recaptured the dogs and put them in the living room, which was full of black bags full of discarded food and drink containers which “looked like they had been there for months”.
The depute went on, “The dog was severely malnourished and its bones were showing through its skin.
”The SSPCA were asked to attend the premises to look after the dogs. One of the officers said she had previously seen the animals and they had been in good body condition at that time.“
She said there had been an astounding deterioration of the dogs and their living conditions,”
Mr Kapadia continued: “When the dogs were released from their cage for the SSPCA inspector to look at them they immediately dived towards the bin bags scavenging for food.”
Asked by police about the dog’s condition, Harris admitted it was “poor”.
He said, “I cut the food and it was too low. It wasn’t fair to the dog.”
Asked about the filthy conditions, he blamed the police for causing the mess when they entered the house.
Defence solicitor Martin McGuire said his client had since signed the dog over into the care of the SSPCA.
“He recognises his failings in relation to the care of the dog. Mr Harris allowed him to look after Milo and that was a scenario she not allowed to happen,” said Mr McGuire.
He said that the householder at Leny Place, Sean Wilkie, was a “long-time friend” of his client.
Sheriff Craig McSherry said, “To suggest that the filthy state of this property was down to the police is absolutely ridiculous.
“These were appalling conditions and the state of emaciation of the dog is disgraceful.”
Sentence: Five months in jail. Banned from keeping any animal for five years (expires December 2021).
#TheList Keane Mitchell Thorpe, Ethan Lewis, Mitch Smith and Seif Naili all of Riddings, nr Alfreton, Derbyshire – mutilated the body of a pet cat named Leo after he had been killed by a dog
The four cowardly teenagers named above carried out and filmed a disgusting attack on the body of a much-loved family cat in Riddings Park. The boys, who at the time were aged 15, 15, 16 and 17, ‘egged’ each other on as they smashed a rock on the head of the three-year-old cat, hit him with a stick, tied him up with rope before filming and boasting about it on Snapchat.
Leo’s badly mutilated body was found on a path by a dog walker at about 2.30pm on August 11, 2016, in the park with multiple injuries and rope tied around its waist.
A post-mortem examination concluded that Leo was already dead before the attack after bite wounds believed to have been inflicted by a ‘large breed dog’ were found. He had suffered horrific injuries to his abdomen, back, head and chest.
The youths all pleaded guilty to carrying out an act of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner, namely beating a cat. They all appeared in court together with their parents.
The court heard the youths and their families had been subjected to threats after the sickening attack. Windows of their homes had been smashed and they’d been forced to fit panic alarms and live in hotels [gutted for them].
Sentence: The teens each received a 12-month youth referral order and were ordered to pay costs and compensation to the cat’s owner
#TheList John Jason McLellan, born c. 1979, of Delarden Road, Pallister Park, Middlesbrough – subjected a helpless dog to a 30-minute beating
Career criminal McLellan, who has previous convictions for heroin dealing, assault and theft, subjected a dog named Bam to such a violent beating that he urinated blood.
14st brute McLellan stuck the boot into Bam after claiming the dog bit his nose. The beating apparently lasted for 30 minutes and was so vicious, a neighbour could hear sickening “continuous thuds and yelping” through the wall.
“This is not an impulsive one-off attack,” claimed the RSPCA, which brought the prosecution. “It was a prolonged attack.
“(Bam) couldn’t sit down and he was very sore.”
A vet claimed the dog’s injuries were consistent with “blunt trauma”, such as a kicking.
The pet dog’s testicles and abdomen were injured in the attack, while bubbles of air could be felt during the check-up.
The attack happened in June 2016 but, four months later, the animal was still receiving veterinary treatment.
McLellan pleaded guilty on Friday 14/10/16 to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Another dog belonging to Bam’s owner, Denise Jaffray, went missing earlier in 2016 and has never been found.
Sentence: 12 weeks’ custody, suspended for 18-months; 30-day rehabilitation order, £500 costs; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires December 2026)
Eleven men were sentenced – three receiving jail terms – for their part in a series of “abhorrent” attacks by dogs on deer, badgers and foxes. Graphic and distressing video footage found on the mobile phone of the ringleader Graham Coombes was shown in court, showing dogs savaging badgers and deer as the accused looked on and gave encouragement.
Analysis of one of the men’s phones revealed thousands of text messages, including one in which he claimed to have used his dogs to kill 178 deer, 894 rabbits, 28 foxes and 22 hares in just six months.
Jeremy Cave, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the ‘primary motivation seems to be gratuitous pleasure’.
Mr Cave said the group would go out ‘lamping’ – using powerful lamps at night to startle and stun deer before setting dogs, usually lurchers, on them.
He said their aim was ‘to kill as much wildlife as possible’.
Mr Cave said Coombes was at the ‘centre of the operation, organising nights out, posting trophy pictures on social media’.
The other men involved were Oliver Blatch, Kenneth Danes, Gethyn Durham, Brian Forrest, Dean McGrath, Joseph O’Connor, Pheon Radford, Ryan Robinson, Philip Cross and Daniel Ravenscroft.
Mr Cave said that of the 27 offences, 22 were related to killing or attacking deer with dogs, four matters were of animal welfare issues relating to the dogs – including neglect – and another was the possession of a dangerous dog.
The court heard how a search of Coombes’ land by Trading Standards found a pile of animal carcasses with at least 20 separate skulls at the top of the heap.
The incinerator operator informed RSPCA investigators they disposed of 604 kilos of animal products, all believed to be from hunts.
Coombes also got another person to shoot his severely injured dog after it had been fighting a badger ‘for four hours’.
Details of offences and sentencing:
Graham Coombes, a groundworker of 2 Abbey Road, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9HZ pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally killing deer at night on different dates in 2014. He pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully killing a badger and one of willfully injuring a badger. He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier called Marley by failing to treat its injuries. Coombes was sentenced to a total of 20 weeks in prison. He was ordered to pay £3,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for life.
Oliver Blatch of 32 Pines Close, Wincanton BA9 9SJ pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted Blatch was of previous good character before sentencing him to a total of eight weeks, suspended for one year, to complete 180 hours’ unpaid leave, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.
Kenneth Danes of Otterford Gypsy Park, Culmhead near Taunton TA3 7DX pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted he was a hardworking man of good character and his early guilty plea. She sentenced him to a total of eight weeks suspended for 12 months and ordered him to pay £800 court costs, £60 victim surcharge and to forfeit his dog Cruz.
Joseph O’Connor, a farmhand at Perthigwynion Farm, Pontardawe near Swansea SA8 4TA, admitted three charges of killing deer in 2014. District Judge Baker told O’Connor the killing of deer was “absolutely abhorrent, it’s barbaric”. However, she recognised his probation report showed genuine remorse and he was of previous good character. She also recognised his advocate’s observation that he was of “limited ability” and his “sense of shame”. She told him he had worked in agriculture his whole life yet despite that he involved himself in the killing of deer. He handed him a nine-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. He also had to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.
Gethyn Durham, a landscape gardener of 36 Marl Court, Cwmbran, Gwent NP44 5TY, admitted one count of killing a deer. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a pitbull-type dangerous dog and five charges of keeping other dogs in an unsuitable environment. District Judge Baker said she accepted his dog Bonnie was a “beloved family pet” but according to his probation report “[Durham] shows little remorse and has antipathy for the RSPCA and their work”.
Durham was jailed for six weeks followed by 12 months’ supervision. He was ordered to pay £800 court costs and £115 victim surcharge. As his partner broke down in the public gallery, District Judge Baker told Durham the legislation regarding dangerous dogs “ties my hands” and she ordered the dog be destroyed. Durham was also told he was disqualified from owning dogs for five years.
Brian Forrest, owner of Brian Forrest Electrical (now Hunter Electrical SW Ltd), of 29 Alfred Street, Taunton TA1 3HY, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. District Judge Baker also noted how he was of previous good character and he had shown genuine remorse. She sentenced him to six weeks jail, suspended for a year, to complete 140 hours unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. She also ordered him to forfeit his dog Eve.
Dean McGrath, born c. 1987, of 35 Neerings, Coed Eva, Cwmbran NP44 6UG, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. McGrath was handed a six week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. District Judge Baker ordered him to complete 160 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also ordered to forfeit his dog Blue.
Pheon Radford of 25 Wyndham Street, Ystrad, Pentre CF41 7BA, pleaded guilty to killing a deer and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. District Judge Baker said Radford left his dog Scar to suffer from an “unpleasant” injury and listed previous scars on its body. She said he had deliberately travelled from Wales to take part in the deer hunts with Cross. She sentenced him to a total of 10 weeks, suspended for 12 months; to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for three years and to forfeit his dog Scar.
Ryan P Robinson of Queens Gate, Queen Street, Newton Abbot TQ12 2EY , admitted taking a deer without the consent of the owner. He was handed a 12 month community order, must take part in a 10 day rehabilitation requirement, complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £800 court costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
Philip Cross of 20 Bryn Ivor St, Tonypandy CF40 2TL was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. He was jailed for eight weeks and disqualified for keeping dogs for five years. He was ordered to pay £4,000 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.
Daniel Ravenscroft of Pearroc Vean, Grange Rd, Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0EH was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker said she took into account his early guilty plea and his 10 years’ service in the British Army. She noted he had given up his dog voluntarily and his probation report spoke of how he recognised how low he had fallen and the devastation it had caused him, leaving him “so embarrassed, so remorseful and so ashamed”.
Ravenscroft was sentenced to six weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months, to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, forfeit his dog and pay £4,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.
Speaking outside of court, RSPCA Chief Inspector Will Mitchell said Coombes’ phone contained around 30,000 images ‘mostly depicting wildlife crime and the use of dogs to kill wildlife, around 11,000 text messages, and videos’.
The texts contained a series of ‘colloquial descriptions of animals, so for badgers they were described as ‘pigs, ‘black and whites’, ‘humbugs’ and ‘smellies’.
He said: ‘There would be the bravado in terms of the type of dogs used and the successes of the dogs. They wanted them for the fight, for destruction.
‘They might say this was sport or pest control – but it’s blood lust.’