#TheList David William Lee, born 01/02/1966, and Lydia Ann Lee, born 18/07/1963, both of The Oaks, Radfall Ride, Whitstable CT5 3EW – kept a neglected dog outside in a faeces-filled kennel and wild birds in cages
David and Lydia Lee, who are members of the travelling community, were disqualified from keeping animals for life after their terrier type dog was found living in appalling conditions.
The RSPCA prosecuted them after issuing a warrant in relation to the illegal trapping and keeping of wild birds. At the property they found wild birds and set traps in the shed as well as the small dog, Frances, living outside in filthy and freezing conditions.
The couple were charged with causing unnecessary suffering to the brown and white female terrier by failing to investigate and address the cause of her poor body condition and weight loss. They were also charged with keeping Frances in a filthy faeces-contaminated kennel which had a sodden carpet and no bedding or dry lying place.
She was also tethered by a chain which was embedded in faeces and mud on the floor which restricted her movement, contrary to Section 4(1) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
David Lee was also charged with possession of live wild birds, 12 Goldfinches and a Redpoll, as well as committing an offence of intentionally taking wild birds and possessing traps, all contrary to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport was one of the inspectors on the scene in January 2017 when they arrived at the property following an investigation into wild bird trapping and keeping.
He said: “It was a very upsetting scene. Whilst there I found the little dog frozen to the floor of the kennel as the chain was frozen fast. This was a very nasty case of a deliberate act of long-term cruelty as the trapping of birds is a planned act, and this was coupled with the long term neglect of the pitiful little dog that I found in filthy, wet and frozen conditions.
“It was a very upsetting and unnecessary case of deliberate, planned and callous cruelty.”
Thankfully Frances the terrier managed to pull through after suffering from mange and malnourishment and was later rehomed to her forever home.
Sentencing: Lydia Ann Lee – 12 weeks in custody, suspended for two years; 12-week curfew; costs and charges totaling £415. David Lee – 18 weeks in custody, suspended for two years; 18-week curfew; ordered to pay a total of £865 cost and charges. They were also both disqualified from keeping animals for life.
#TheList Zara Brown (aka Zara Prentice or Zara Rooney), born 06/01/1988, of New Cottages, Patna, Ayr KA6 7JF – for appalling acts of cruelty and neglect towards homeless pets at her rehoming charity, Ayrshire Ark
Pet rescue owner Zara Brown failed to give dogs in her care adequate food and water and she abandoned them in a filthy derelict primary school with no lights.
Some of the animals were left to die in the building and she stored several of the carcasses in a chest freezer.
In all, authorities found 16 dead pets – 15 dogs and one cat – and many more with untreated conditions including a broken bone, arthritis, ear and paw infections, pressure sores and ulcers.
Several dogs believed to be in the care of the Ayrshire Ark remain unaccounted for to this day with Brown refusing to reveal their fates to their distraught former owners.
In August 2017 mother-of-four Brown appeared in the dock at Ayr Sheriff Court.
Depute fiscal Jason Bell told the court how a Scottish SPCA inspector discovered a scene of horror at the Ayrshire Ark shelter, including a stash of seven dogs and a cat in a freezer, some of whom were badly mutilated.
The charity visited the sanctuary, housed in a derelict schoolhouse in Patna, after receiving reports that a Presa Canario cross named Ozzy was lying dead on the floor.
Mr Bell revealed the Scottish SPCA inspector and police had to wait four hours to gain access because Brown wasn’t there and partner Gary Rooney, who part-owns the building, claimed not to have keys.
During the delay, the welfare team peered through a window and saw dead Ozzy slumped on the floor and other dogs in bad health. One very thin dog appeared to be standing in her own filth, without food or water, in a cloakroom.
The depute fiscal went on: “They could see two large bulldog-type dogs clambering over rubbish and debris — they appeared to be running freely in the corridor and in poor condition.
“They also noticed a large dog within one of the former classrooms that appeared lifeless. It was very underweight.
“They tried to rouse it by banging on the window and it appeared the dog was clearly dead.”
Brown finally appeared from the back of the former school at around 11pm and let the authorities inside.
The court heard the “overpowering” stench of faeces and urine made them gag as they made their way through the unlit building, where they stumbled across an animal in a cage.
Mr Bell said: “They noticed the bulldog-type dogs which had been viewed earlier in the corridor appeared to have been secured in a classroom before entry had been gained by the witnesses.
“They located a chest freezer and within were seven dead dog carcasses and a dead cat.”
The mercy crew searched for the lifeless dog they’d spotted through a window — but it had vanished.
Mr Bell said: “There were visible drag marks indicating it had been moved.”
Two more underweight dogs were in a classroom, while a third dog was found “weak and struggling to stand” in a toilet area, despite having access to food and water.
Mr Bell said: “They entered a further room and found a dead dog behind the door. Zara Brown stated she knew this dog as Bruce.
“The inspector formed the opinion the dogs were suffering. They had poor body condition, bones clearly visible. Their living conditions were woefully inadequate with regards to cleanliness.”
Nine dogs were signed over to the Scottish SPCA by Brown and taken to their vet in Glasgow.
They were found to be malnourished with a range of health issues. Bulldog Primo — who also had inflammation of the ears and feet — had to be put to sleep.
The court heard welfare chiefs attempted to interview Brown on December 29, 2017, but she failed to show.
Brown, who also has a conviction for VAT fraud, admitted nine charges of failing to properly feed dogs in her care or treat their health problems, leaving them suffering malnutrition, weight loss, lameness, infections and ulcers.
Defence lawyer Euan Cameron had pleaded for Brown to dodge jail for the sake of her four kids, but Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart told her: “Such is the gravity of the offences, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
After the sentencing, Scottish SPCA inspector Leanne McPake said: “This case was particularly harrowing and will stay with us for a long time.”
As at late 2018 Brown is believed to be living in Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway DG7.
Sentencing: Seven months in jail. Banned for life from keeping animals
#TheList Daniel McCreedy, born 11/05/1984, of 46 Selby Rise, Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 5EE
McCreedy, then of Campbell Road in Brighton, was caught on CCTV carrying out the beating on his friend’s Staffordshire bull terrier cross at the Royal Oak pub in Lewes, East Sussex, on April 13, 2017.
He pleaded guilty to subjecting the dog, known as Babe, to unreasonable violence and causing him unnecessary suffering.
The court was shown a 20-minute video of the attack, in which McCreedy punches Babe 36 times, kicks him four times, chokes him twice with a lead and proceeds to pour a beer over his head.
RSPCA Inspector Tony Woodley, who led the investigation said: “Watching this video is just heart-breaking and stomach-churning. This dog is completely subordinate and this prolonged period of abuse is totally unwarranted and frankly disturbing.
“The poor dog is just absolutely terrified and also confused. One minute McCreedy is hitting him repeatedly in the head, the next minute he is cuddling the dog in a bid to pretend he is a caring animal owner. It is just horrific to see and a vet who watched this said that in their opinion there is no doubt this dog was caused pain and suffering during this sustained attack.
“It is perhaps lucky that the poor dog did not suffer any lasting physical injuries as a result of this attack, but he would clearly have been severely traumatised by McCreedy’s actions.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped to bring this case to court including the witnesses who gave statements and of course the landlady who provided us with the CCTV which quickly led to McCreedy’s identification.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Babe’s owner, James Hardaker, from Moulsecoomb, said: “Babe was always very friendly to people, but now barks at them because he is scared. I’ve been advised to have him put down.
“I am going to try and re-train him as a pup to get him back to how he was.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order, 20 days of rehabilitation for mental health illness, and an eight-week curfew. Ordered to pay £300 in costs and an £85 government surcharge. Disqualified from having any contact with animals until further notice.
#TheList Natasha Jane Waller, born c. 1992, of Ashby Road, Shepshed, Loughborough LE12 – left a former racehorse to starve in a field with no hay or water
Natasha Jane Waller was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to the horse, Maisie.
Waller bought the former racehorse in the summer of 2014, but over the next couple of years paid fewer and fewer visits to the thoroughbred.
When the RSPCA got involved in the case, Maisie’s ribs were plainly visible under her skin and she was covered in filth.
The horse was in a field with no hay, no water and with nothing more than hedges to protect her from the elements.
Maisie eventually had to be put to sleep due to her poor health.
RSPCA inspector Alison North said: “We were first called with concerns for Maisie’s welfare in April 2016 and worked with Waller giving lots of advice on properly feeding Maisie to help her gain weight and condition.
“We were pleased Waller seemed to be following this advice but sadly later that year in October (2016) we received further calls to report that Maisie’s condition has worsened again.
“We went out to see Maisie straight away and tragically, found her to be severely emaciated and suffering.
“Sadly, even vets were not able to save Maisie and she was put to sleep on welfare grounds. This was a really upsetting case and Maisie is one of the thinnest horses we had seen — it was a real shock to see her like that.
“It’s incredibly sad to think that earlier that year Waller had followed our advice and started to improve Maisie’s condition, but at some point she stopped and poor Maisie suffered hugely and lost her life as a result.
“As a welfare organisation with more than 800 horses currently in our care, we see the horrible effects of neglect and suffering to animals every day. We rely on the public to be our eyes and ears and report cruelty and suffering to us, and we are grateful to those who contacted us about Maisie so we could do what we could to try and help.”
Sentencing: eight weeks in prison, suspended for two years; £150 surcharge. Banned from keeping equines for seven years (expires August 2024).
#TheList Gary Ian McPhail, born 01/09/1989, previously of Peveril Road, Tibshelf, Alfreton, and now 1 Grafton Close, St Albans AL4 0EX – left a rabbit to starve to death in his cage.
McPhail pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the grey rabbit named Bugsy.
The court heard that Bugsy died after not being fed any food for a week at McPhail’s previous home in Alfreton.
RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe, who investigated, said: “McPhail was well aware that he wasn’t feeding the rabbit and he knew that as a result, the rabbit was suffering a great deal. He said that he could tell the rabbit wasn’t well as he wasn’t moving much.
“When I interviewed McPhail about this, he said he did not have any money to feed the rabbit – yet he did not make any attempt to contact any organisations for help. Instead he left Bugsy to starve to death.
“He actually had a lawn of grass which would have provided some free food for the rabbit. So there was food there for him, but he did not provide it for Bugsy.
“Rabbits have sensitive stomachs and going without food for even just 12 hours can cause them to suffer. The fact that Bugsy went without food for a whole week is unbearable.
“It’s unbelievably cruel to simply leave an animal to slowly die in a cage without the care they need and deserve to survive.”
Sentencing: eight-week curfew; ordered to pay £385. Banned from keeping animals for five years (expires August 2022).
Updates: in August 2018 the Herts Advertiser reported that McPhail had breached a restraining order. He was fined £120 plus £85 costs and £30 towards victim services. The newspaper gave his address as Cairns Close, St Albans.
#TheList Zach Alan Cook (who’s taken to calling himself John Gage), born 25/02/1992, last known address Beaufort House, Strawbridge Road, Bristol BS5 9XF – left two dogs to starve on a balcony; both dogs put to sleep
Career criminal Zach Cook was banned from keeping animals for life after he left Ruby and Blacky without food on the balcony of his high-rise flat at Beaufort House, Strawbridge Road in Barton Hill.
Cook was jailed for 18 weeks after police found the emaciated dogs confined to a squalid enclosed balcony area which was covered in faeces and urine.
The RSPCA said that both dogs had to be put down by a vet.
Neighbours had reported a stench coming from the flat before officers broke in and discovered the dogs in horrific conditions.
RSPCA Inspector Dan Hatfield, who investigated, said: “Ruby and Blacky suffered horrendous cruelty and neglect because Zach Cook decided to just shut them on the balcony and just forget about them.
“His way of dealing with no longer wanting to care for his dogs was to pretend they didn’t exist while he continued to get on with his life in the flat attached to the balcony.
“When they were discovered Blacky was stood cowering next to Ruby and was so thin all his bones were showing.
“Ruby was in an absolutely terrible state. She had completely collapsed and was lying in the squalor, unable to get to her feet and had to be carried to my van in a basket.
“It broke my heart to see her use the last bit of energy she had to wag her tail as I carried her out. She was so starved, exhausted and close to death but still managed to try to show love.
“There are simply no excuses for treating animals in such a cruel and disgusting way. We plead with anyone who no longer wants their pets or can no longer care for them to ask for help before it ever gets like this.”
Cook, admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the animals and two counts of failing to meet the needs of the dogs.
Previously of Cossham Road in St George, Cook was jailed for six years and two months in March 2017 after he, and accomplices Micky Revill and Jordan Talbot burst into a home in the city centre and threatened to stab the woman inside unless she gave them money.
As at November 2019 Cook has been released from prison, but his current address is unknown.
Sentencing: jailed for 18 weeks. Banned from keeping animals for life.
#TheList Bruce Jon Elliott, born 24/11/1984, formerly of Lordenshaw, Newcastle upon Tyne NE5 and more recently 20 Gloucester Court, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 2XJ – killed his pregnant girlfriend’s dog after ‘losing his temper’
Bruce Elliott kicked the eight-year-old Jack Russell cross, known as Smudge, before leaving her to die.
The incident happened at Elliott’s home on 26 October 2016, when his then girlfriend was not there.
RSPCA inspector Helen Bestwick said: “He told the court that Smudge wasn’t allowed upstairs but had gone up there and urinated on the bed. He said he chased her downstairs and a mountain bike, which was at the bottom of them, fell on top of her, then he kicked her outside.
“We’ll never know exactly what happened but when Smudge was found by a neighbour around 300 metres away on a patch of grass between the local social club and supermarket she was collapsed.
“Recognising her as sometimes being walked by Elliot, he was alerted to her plight and took her back to his home. When the neighbour enquired as to how she was and discovered she hadn’t been taken to a vets we were called.
“We believe the incident happened at around 6.15pm but unfortunately it was 8.30pm by the time we got the call about Smudge, who Elliot had allowed to suffer all that time. When I got there Elliot was aggressive so police had to be called.
“Sadly, Smudge died in the back of my van on the way to the vets. It was awful. A post mortem revealed she had died of internal bleeding. She had a ruptured liver with multiple lacerations, a hemorrhage near her right kidney and bruising between her shoulder blades.”
Elliott pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal – one count for kicking the dog and another for preventing the dog from getting treatment – and was sentenced to 15 weeks’ prison for the animal cruelty offences.
He also admitted harassing his new girlfriend, Paris Dixon, and was given a four-week jail term for that offence.
Elliott met Ms Dixon after his previous girlfriend, Smudge’s owner Franchesca Jones, left him following his cowardly attack on her pet.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said they met in December 2016 and at first the relationship seemed “too good to be true”.
He said: “Unfortunately she was right and the defendant became controlling and violent during the course of their relationship.”
The court heard Elliott manipulated Ms Dixon into thinking she was mentally ill, so much so that she even went to her doctor looking for help.
“He would call me a tramp and take the mickey out of my lisp,” she said in a statement read out in court. “I am scared to see him if I go out and I am scared to let my dog outside.”
After they broke up, Elliott harassed her with 300 messages in one day
In court father-of-two Elliott complained that he would lose his business and his house as the details emerged in court, but was sent to prison.
Mitigating for Elliott, Sara Clasper said: “He lost his temper, it was a momentary reaction. He is very remorseful.”
Sentencing: jailed for 15 weeks for animal cruelty with a further four weeks for harassment. Disqualified from keeping animals for 20 years with right of appeal after ten years.
Additional information: in July 2019 Bruce Elliott started a company called BE Engineering Consultants Ltd. The company is registered in Scotland and the Companies House entry gives Elliott’s nationality as Scottish.
#TheList Martin Jones, born 23/08/1958, of Hillsway, Shirebrook, Mansfield NG20 8DZ – allowed his deceased mother’s run-down home to become overrun with 30 inter-bred feral cats and a ferret.
Thirty cats and a ferret were rescued from a bungalow which was ‘waist-high’ in animal faeces.
The owner of the animals, Martin Jones, was banned from keeping animals for life after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering.
The court heard that an RSPCA inspector visited a property in Hillsway, Shirebrook, in March 2017 after a member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity with concerns.
RSPCA inspector Deborah Scotcher said: “Initially I looked through the window and saw what looked like an extremely messy room cluttered with furniture and general rubbish. But once we got inside, I realised that what I saw through the window was not the full story.
“There were 30 cats and a ferret living in this bungalow and they were all feral, just left to fend for themselves. It had, quite simply, become overrun with the animals. The conditions in the house were horrific – there was so much animal faeces which in some parts of the bungalow were waist-high and completely embedded in surfaces.
“There was literally nowhere else for the animals to relieve themselves and they had resorted to defecating on the tops of wardrobes and kitchen surfaces. The property was dark, damp and not fit for humans or animals to live in. It felt unreal.”
The court heard the house had belonged to Jones’s late mother and that initially Jones had put two cats in the house, but that over time they had interbred.
Inspector Scotcher said: “Jones was visiting the house and throwing food down, but he had no way of knowing whether all the animals were eating properly.
“Some of the cats were so feral that the only way we could handle them was with thick gauntlet gloves.”
The animals were removed from the house over the following three weeks. Cat traps were set and checked daily.
Each cat was examined by a vet, who had attended the property and viewed the conditions first hand. Sadly, however, some of the cats were put to sleep on veterinary advice as they were suffering from feline AIDS and a variety of other health problems. Many could not be handled and had had no human interaction or contact for the whole of their lives.
The ferret and a number of cats have since been rehomed.
Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay £400 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. Lifetime disqualification order on keeping animals.
#TheList Thomas McLaughlin, born ca. 1963, of West Campbell Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire PA2 – left a poorly 7yo Golden Retriever named Prince to suffer with multiple ailments including arthritis and a skin condition
McLaughlin pleaded guilty to charges of causing golden retriever Prince unnecessary suffering by omitting to take the dog to the vet between October 2016 and January 2017 for treatment.
Cruel Thomas McLaughlin deliberately ignored the plight of Prince, even though the 7yo dog had lost most of his coat, was covered in sores, his paws were badly swollen, and he was constantly scratching patches of its hairless skin.
Fiscal depute Margaret McCallum told the court that an SSPCA inspector had attended McLaughlin’s property after an anonymous complaint about a neglected dog not receiving veterinary attention in respect of its ailments.
She said: “When admitted to the property, the inspector went into the living room where there was a golden retriever dog, normally called Prince, and he could clearly see it had a severe skin condition.
“His entire body was inflamed and red in colour. He was sparsely covered in hair. He had small spots and sores over his body.”
The court was told the room smelt “musky” and the animal could “barely stand” on his swollen paws. He limped slowly along and struggled to move his hind legs and fore legs. Prince also scratched incessantly at his skin.
A veterinary examination showed the dog weighed around 29 kilos and had body condition scale of 1.5/5, where a scale of one is emaciated and five is obese.
McLaughlin admitted he hadn’t been to the vets for two-and-a-half years and the dog did not have any medication.
The inspector summoned another SSPCA officer to help him deal with Prince’s rescue in January 2017. Sadly he had to be euthanised due to the extent of his ailments which included osteoarthritis and dysplasia.
Sheriff James Spy told the accused he had caused “considerable distress” to the animal requiring the dog to be put down.
Sentencing: Fined £1,000. Banned from keeping dogs for 10 years (expires August 2027).
#TheList Gussie Lee, born c. 1956, of Woodland Way, Ipswich IP1 5PE – caused suffering to a large group of horses based in Paper Mill Lane in north Ipswich
Gussie Lee was banned from keeping animals after horses he owned were found hungry, dehydrated and diseased.
Lee pleaded guilty to failing to meet the needs of 10 horses and causing unnecessary suffering to six of them.
RSPCA inspectors visited the horses in Paper Mill Lane, north Ipswich, after concerns were raised about their condition.
Prosecuting, Hugh Rowland, said that on January 5, 2017, five horses were found “very underweight” and Lee was issued with a warning notice, requiring him to ensure the animals were fed and wormed and to call a vet if their condition deteriorated further.
Returning on January 12 with a vet, Mr Rowlnad said the horses’ condition was found to have worsened. Blood tests found some of the horses were suffering liver disease from eating a toxic plant.
The horses were found with matted hair, ingrown hooves, lice infestations and some were suffering from anaemia or dehydration. They were seized by police, handed over to the RSPCA and taken to a horse sanctuary.
Mr Rowland said the vet “was of the view” it would have taken more than four weeks for the worst affected to reach that state.
In mitigation, David Allan, defending, said Lee had expressed “genuine shame” about what had happened. He said Lee was in ill health, having suffered several heart attacks. Most significantly, Mr Allan said, he had been affected by the “extremely fraught” situation that followed two killings on West Meadows travellers’ site.
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Anne Tyler, said the offences fell into the category of “high culpability”. “It’s so serious that only custodial options are appropriate,” she added.
The RSPCA said the horses had since undergone an “amazing transformation” thanks to the RSPCA and Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
Sentencing: 16-week custodial sentence suspended for 24 months for causing unnecessary suffering to six horses and 12 weeks suspended for two years for failing to meet the needs of 10 horses, to run concurrently. He was ordered to pay £500 costs and £115 victim surcharge to be taken from his benefits. He was also banned from keeping animals and told he could not appeal for 10 years.