Briton Ferry, Neath Port Talbot: Robert and Ceri Rickman

#TheList Robert Roy Rickman, born c. 1972, and wife Ceri Ann Rickman, born c. 1985, both of Parc Newydd, Briton Ferry SA11 2UP (previously Groves Road, Cimla, Neath) – lived in abject squalor with 15 cats and two dogs

The Rickmans' pets were subjected to squalid conditions, with bottles of urine and cardboard boxes of faeces discarded across the filthy property. 
The Rickmans’ pets were subjected to squalid conditions, with bottles of urine and cardboard boxes of faeces discarded across the filthy property. 

The Rickmans both previously admitted causing unnecessary suffering to 15 domestic cats, and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of two dogs were met.

An RSPCA officer attended the couple’s previous address at 46 Groves Road in June 2017, and found flea-ridden and underweight cats roaming the filthy property.

One of the malnourished and flea-riddled cats found at the property
One of the malnourished and flea-riddled cats found at the property

Two dogs – one brindle lurcher and a collie-cross – were also living at the home – a “wholly inappropriate environment” in which their needs were clearly not met.

RSPCA inspectors found piles of rubbish filling the rooms, human and animal faeces and urine on the floors throughout the property, filth and grime on virtually every surface, and a “repellent smell”.

The court heard Robert, who had previously gone by the name Robert Ford, has a previous conviction from 1998 for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under the old Protection of Animals Act 1911.

Steve Harrett, for the couple, said his clients both had limitations which had led to the conditions found in the house.

Speaking about his visit to the property, RSPCA Inspector Neill Manley said: “This was a thoroughly grim and hugely challenging case, in some of the worst conditions I have witnessed in my entire life.

“I arrived at the property on one of the hottest days of the year, and was shell-shocked at the squalid conditions in which animals were living.

“Cats roamed the house in a truly horrendous condition, while two dogs were clearly being kept in a wholly inappropriate environment.

“The property was totally infested with fleas, and a number of the cats had developed an allergic reaction which was not treated. It’s a timely reminder as to the importance of seeking veterinary attention in such situations as soon as possible.

“Across the house, there were plastic bottles or urine, plus cardboard boxes filled with faeces and spread across the floors.

“The condition of the animals was absolutely heartbreaking, and it beggars all belief that anyone deemed it acceptable to keep animals in such filthy, squalid surroundings.

“Fortunately, the RSPCA’s intervention ensured all animals were signed into our care – and could go on for rehoming, and a second chance of happiness. That happy outcome is a reminder as to the exact reason why the RSPCA exists.”

Sentencing:
12-month community order with a rehabilitation requirement; £300 each towards costs. Banned from keeping any animal for 10 years (expires January 2028).

The Wave
Mirror

Cimla, Neath Port Talbot: Liam Moran

#TheList Liam Moran, born 01/10/1986, of Groves Road, Cimla, Neath SA11 – filmed his dogs viciously mauling a badger for two minutes before stabbing it to death

Horrifying footage on Liam Moran's mobile phone showed a badger being attacked by dogs
Horrifying footage on Liam Moran’s mobile phone showed a badger being attacked by dogs

Liam Moran pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, to failing to protect four dogs from pain, suffering or injury, and four counts of wilfully injuring or ill-treating a badger.

Video footage stored on Moran’s mobile phone showed two lurchers and two terrier-type dogs savaging the the helpless badger for two minutes before it was stabbed to death.

RSPCA officers who raided Moran’s home found three dogs with scars and scabs in the garden.

One of the dogs, a terrier called Josh, was also missing an eye and had a ‘severe’ jaw injury which had healed.

In sheds at the property and in the back of Moran’s VW Kangool van officers found items including Dettol and other antiseptic products, a blood-stained skin stapler and staples, skin glue, a lamping light, spades, metal bars, and tablets given to dogs to boost their muscles and increase their stamina.

Mr Tarrant said it was the prosecution’s case that the first aid items found in the raid were to allow injuries to dogs to be treated ‘in house’ without having to take them to vets and thereby attracting attention.

The court heard the inspectors removed three of the dogs from the house and also seized Moran’s mobile phone.

When the phone was examined a number of disturbing video clips were found, along with numerous conversations about digging brocks and ‘pigs’, which the prosecution said were references to badgers.

Mr Tarrant said the messages were evidence of ‘wide scale and extensive activity’ by Moran.

After viewing the footage RSPCA inspectors went back to Moran’s house and found more dogs in the garden, including one with ‘puncture wounds’ under its chin. These too were seized.

It is not known where the badger baiting caught on camera took place.

District judge Neale Thomas said he did not believe the defendant’s assertion that the encounter with the badger had been by chance, calling the incident caught on film a ‘premeditated plan for gratuitous cruelty’.

He said Moran had shown ‘medieval barbarity’ and a ‘level of depravity almost too great to be believed’ in his hunting of badgers.

Sentence:
22 weeks in prison. Banned from owning dogs for life. The court ordered the retention of seven dogs seized from the Neath property.

Daily Mail

Worton, Cassington, Oxfordshire: David and Anneke Blake plus Jenejio Marques Fidel

#TheList David K Blake and Anneke Maria Blake, owners of the Worton Organic Garden, Worton, near Cassington OX29 4SU and their employee, Jenejio Marques Fidel – for the illegal and inhumane slaughter of a ten-week-old piglet

Photo shows David and Anneke Blake and their employee Jenejio Marques Fidel
David and Anneke Blake trading as Worton Organic Garden and their employee Jenejio Marques Fidel

The piglet had its feet bound before being illegally slaughtered in a way that inspectors said would cause a ‘prolonged death’.

The business owners David and Anneke Blake appeared alongside their employee Jenejio Marques Fidel, who carried out the unusual slaughter.

The court heard how officers from Oxfordshire Trading Standards first visited the farm in May 2017 after getting a complaint about illegal slaughter of animals.

When asked about the slaughtering of pigs, the Blakes admitted to the slaughtering of a 10-week-old piglet by Marques.

The court was shown the knife which Marques used to kill the pig.

They revealed the method of slaughter was by binding the feet of the pig then stabbing it through the heart.

This method of slaughter was identified by a Defra veterinary officer as leading to a ‘prolonged death’ and causing ‘distress and unnecessary suffering’.

The meat from the pig was then sold and eaten at the farm cafe, despite not complying with UK food safety legislation.

When officers went back for a second visit, they discovered evidence of medicines being used to treat pigs for worms.

But when questioned, Mr Blake admitted he did not keep any records on administering the medicines – a requirement under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

Again, the regulations are intended to ‘ensure the integrity’ and safety of food destined for human consumption.

The Blakes and Marques all pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and were apologetic for their actions, which they said was out of ignorance of the law.

They also gave assurances that they would follow the legal requirements in future.

David and Anneke Blake and their employee all admitted failing to comply with regulations relating to the welfare of animals at the time of killing. David Blake also admitted to failing to record details of veterinary medicinal products.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for trading standards Judith Heathcoat said: “Rules are in place around the slaughter of animals and the keeping of livestock records for very good reasons, ensuring the safety and integrity of our food chain, not forgetting the need to prevent unnecessary suffering to animals.

“The vast majority of livestock keepers maintain very good farming standards and we will not tolerate those who undermine the system.”

Sentencing:
David Blake – fined a total of £664 and ordered to pay £2,000 court costs and a £38 victim surcharge.

Anneke Blake – fined £230 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Marques, who gave his address as Rectory Cottage, Worton,  was fined £150 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge.

Oxford Mail

Southend-on-Sea, Essex: Chanel Chelsea Knight

#TheList Chanel Chelsea Knight, born 21/11/1996, of Wesley Court, Southchurch Avenue, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2FJ – her neglect caused her pet cat to lose a leg

Chanel Chelsea Knight of Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Pure trash: feckless Chanel Chelsea Knight of Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Knight was found guilty of breaching the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The court heard Knight failed to seek appropriate veterinary care for her black cat Ruby who had suffered a broken leg.

Southend magistrates heard how Knight, who did not attend the hearing, had left Ruby to suffer in pain for seven days with the injury.

Between July 7 and July 15, 2017, Knight failed to “take reasonable steps” to seek treatment of any kind for the cat’s injury which the court heard led to “unnecessary suffering”.

Eventually, vets were forced to amputate the leg due to lack of treatment.

The prosecution was brought by the RSPCA who believed Knight had not fulfilled her legal duty of care to her pet.

Sentencing:
120 hours of unpaid work; four-month tagging ordered. Total of £335 costs and charges. Disqualified from owning any animal for the rest of her life (no right of appeal for ten years).

Echo News

Littlebourne, Canterbury: Rachid Serroukh

#TheList Rachid Serroukh, born c. 1978, of The Elders, Court Hill, Littlebourne, Canterbury CT3 1XT – left his dog in a van on 29-degree summer day

Dutch Shepherd

Police officers were called to Rachid Serroukh’s van, which had been parked unattended at The Gatehouse public car park in Chichester Gate from at least 9am until 1.10pm on Tuesday, June 20 2016.

A passer-by noticed the van was shaking and called police. Inside, officers found the dog – a Dutch Herder named Nero (pictured) – in a major state of distress.

The dog was taken straight to the local vet, seized from the owner and placed into the care of the RSPCA.

PC Martin George of the Chichester investigations team said: “This dog is lucky to be alive and it is a sharp reminder to all drivers not to leave your dog in a hot car.

“We worked closely with the RSPCA and we are happy the dog has made a full recovery.”

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “Throughout last summer the RSPCA received thousands of calls across the country regarding the concern of dogs being put in perilously dangerous situations by being left in hot cars.

“The RSPCA and other charities and organisations, joined forces to raise awareness amongst the general public that it is never acceptable to leave a dog in a hot car as part of its annual Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign.

“There are still too many instances where animals are being left in sweltering cars, caravans and conservatories and tragically some of them have deadly consequences.

“We would also like to remind people that in an emergency call 999 to report a dog in the hot car to the police, because as a charity, the RSPCA may not be able to attend quickly enough, and, with no powers of entry, we need police assistance at such an incident.”

Sentence:
Serroukh was sentenced to 70 hours of unpaid work and payment of a £300 fine

Chichester Observer

Penzance, Cornwall: Sharon and Ashley Wood

#TheList Sharon Elizabeth Wood, born 1971, of Polmeere Road, Penzance TR18 3PJ, and son Ashley Mark Wood (also uses the surname Corfe), born 1996, formerly of the same address but now of Penventon Terrace, Redruth TR15 3AD

Convicted dog abusers Sharon Elizabeth Wood and Ashley Mark Wood from Cornwall
The Woods’ dog Dexter was found covered in sores with barely any fur. He was chronically underweight and his ribs and back bones were exposed and he had no fat on his body.

Mother-of-five Sharon Wood and son Ashley Mark Wood admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a dog named Dexter who was found covered in sores with barely any fur. He was chronically underweight and his ribs and back bones were exposed with no fat on his body.

Appearing for sentencing the pair were told they had committed “a despicable act of cruelty to the animal” and they were lucky not to be sent straight to prison.

The court heard that Dexter belonged to Ashley Wood but his mother was also responsible for the pet, who at the time lived at her home.

Lindi Meyer, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said a family friend was horrified to find 10-month-old Dexter covered in bleeding sores and scabs, having lost most of his fur and nearly half his body weight.

She took him straight to the vets and the RSPCA and police were then called and Dexter was taken into care.

Ms Meyer said he weighed just 12.85kg when brought in to the RSPCA. After four days on an emergency diet, Dexter’s weight had risen to 15kg and he now weighed a healthy 19.8kg.

Convicted dog abusers Sharon Elizabeth Wood and Ashley Mark Wood from Cornwall

She said: “Staff in the centre were unable to put a collar on him as this made him bleed around the neck. There was basically no fur on his body apart from along his back and he was extremely thin.”

She said his eyes were swollen and discharging fluid.

Ms Meyer said Ashley told the RSPCA that Dexter had been really ill for two weeks previously. She said he did not go to the vets but instead asked his friends for help, who suggested taking Dexter for a swim in the sea. Ashley admitted using skin cream to try to treat Dexter’s condition, she added.

She said the vet who inspected Dexter said: “In my opinion the dog was suffering and had been for a minimum of four months.”

Ms Meyer showed the court pictures of Dexter as he is now, having made a complete recovery. She said: “With an intervention and proper treatment, he looks fantastic now. He has been re-homed.”

She told the court the pair also have five cats and another dog, which has since been re-homed, and asked the court to ban them from keeping animals.

Beverley Wilmott, from the Probation Service, who interviewed the Woods for the court, said Sharon Wood was ashamed of what had happened.

She said: “She didn’t seek to excuse her behaviour. She was aware the dog was quite poorly but she didn’t seek treatment at the time. She didn’t want to get into trouble about the state he was in and she had concerns about paying the vets.

“She is extremely ashamed to be here in court. She said, as the mother, she should have taken the responsibility of looking after the dog.”

As a result of previous media coverage, she added that Sharon no longer felt safe in the council house where she has lived for the last 17 years. She said she suffered some health and mobility problems for which she had not sought help and was of previous good character.

Convicted dog abusers Sharon Elizabeth Wood and Ashley Mark Wood from Cornwall
Sharon Wood outside court

Turning to Ashley, Ms Wilmott said: “He tells me he did very much stick his head in the sand. He does suffer from anxiety which is linked to alcoholism. Finance was also a problem. Other bills got in the way and Dexter became a low priority.”

She said he was now getting help for his drinking from the relevant agencies.

Solicitor Charles Hulley, representing the Woods, said they cooperated with the investigation and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Referring to press coverage of their first court appearance, he said: “Through social media, they’ve experienced some difficulties as a result of their guilty pleas and want to move to a different area.”

Addressing the pair, the presiding magistrate, Mr Aldred, said: “These offences were so serious that neither a fine or community sentence would be justified. You should have been aware of the animal’s suffering and should have acted to relieve that suffering, and neither of you did that.”

Sentencing:
Both were sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for two years. Total of £415 each in costs and charges.  Banned from keeping any animals for life with no right of appeal for at least 10 years. The court also ordered all animals still in their care in 21 days to be seized.

 

Smithy Fen Travellers site, Cottenham: Tommy Wall

#TheList: Tommy Wall, born c. 1960, of the notorious Irish travellers site at Smithy Fen, near Cottenham, Cambridgeshire – failed to get treatment for his dog’s fractured leg

Poor Patch had to have a leg amputated after his feckless owner, gypsy Tommy Wall of the notorious travellers site at Smithy Fen, near Cottenham, failed to take him to the vet.
Poor Patch had to have a leg amputated after his feckless owner, gypsy Tommy Wall of the notorious travellers site at Smithy Fen, near Cottenham, failed to take him to the vet.

Wall was found guilty by a district judge of causing unnecessary suffering to his dog, Patch.

The court heard he had failed to ensure the dog received appropriate veterinary care for a fractured leg between the period of May 2 and 10, 2018.

The judge was told Wall had taken his dog to a veterinary clinic for treatment, but when advised it could be a fractured leg, he left with Patch because he didn’t have the money to pay for it.

Concerned for the dog’s welfare a call was made to the RSPCA and an inspector visited Wall and gave him details of an RSPCA clinic which could help him.

But when the dog owner failed to attend the clinic on two separate occasions, the RSPCA took the animal to the vet, and after being advised the leg clearly appeared to be fractured, the charity had the dog seized by the police and placed into its care.

RSPCA inspector Alex Coghlan, said: “Poor Patch would have suffered for a number of days because his owner failed to get him the necessary treatment.

“There is just no excuse for allowing a dog to suffer for such a long period of time, especially when he had been advised the leg could be fractured and that help was offered so that he could get the treatment for Patch.

“Patch’s leg was amputated and he has been cared for by one of our fosterers who may now want to rehome him permanently after the court has signed him over into our care.

“I hope the severity of this sentence acts as a reminder to pet-owners that they have a legal responsibility to seek veterinary treatment for their animals when they require it.

“There are many organisations out there who can help if there are financial issues. It simply isn’t acceptable to leave an animal to suffer.”

Sentence:
18-week custodial sentence; £500 costs.  Disqualified from keeping all animals for five years (expires January 2023). 

CambridgeshireLive

Wrexham, North Wales: Christopher Stewart Higgins

#TheList Christopher Stewart Higgins, born c. 1965, of 7x Maes Hyfryd, New Rhosrobin, Wrexham LL11 4PJ – pretended to find his dog with maggot-infested tumour at roadside to get vet treatment

Compulsive gambler Christopher Higgins pretended to find hi poorly dog at roadside to get vet treatment
Compulsive gambler Christopher Higgins pretended to find his poorly dog at roadside to get vet treatment

Christopher Higgins pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the dog, named Scooby, between July 8 and 22, 2017, by failing to provide the necessary veterinary care.

Scooby had a large tumour in his left lumbar area and a wound on his right side. There were maggots in the wound and signs of ulceration in the tumour. He was also quite emaciated and suffering from fly strike in one of his ears.

The court heard that Higgins’ wife, Sharon Lindsay, had given him money to pay for Scooby’s treatment but that he had spent it on his gambling habit.

Higgins  then hatched a ruse by pretending he had found the dog collapsed at a roadside. He managed to flag down a passing vet and Scooby was taken to the nearby Daleside Veterinary Group. In the absence of an owner, the vets felt it was in the dog’s best interest for him to be put to sleep.

The matter was reported to the RSPCA who made a public appeal. Higgins and Lindsay were soon identified as Scooby’s owners.

Sharon Lindsay had physical and mental difficulties that made it difficult for her to deal with the problem herself, the court heard.

When interviewed, Higgins appeared remorseful and apologised for not being truthful with the RSPCA.

Magistrates’ chairman Andrew Stubbs said they took into account Higgins’ guilty plea and remorse, adding that he had shown incompetence rather than malice.

After the case RSPCA Inspector Jenny Anderton said: “This is such an awful case which involved the serious neglect of a dog, who was suffering unnecessarily.

“The pictures of the tumour are very graphic and show the horrific condition of Scooby.

”The tumour had become ulcerated and during the hot weather had become infested with maggots and seriously infected.

”The vet also found Scooby to be very thin.

“It is just so sad that it came to this and Scooby wasn’t able to be saved.

“Mr Higgins is very remorseful.”

Sentencing:
Total costs and charges of £535. Disqualified from keeping dogs for three years (expires January 2021).  

Leader Live

Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire: Michelle Lewis and Michael Rowland Sampson

#TheList Michelle Lewis, born c. 1968, and Michael Rowland Sampson, born c. 1981,  of Coronation Avenue, Haverfordwest SA61 – kept seven neglected cats and dogs in their filthy, rubbish-strewn home

Michelle Lewis and Michael Rowland Sampson pleaded guilty to jointly causing unnecessary suffering to their animals by failing to provide a suitable living environment.

The pair also admitted two charges of not ensuring that the needs of the cats and dogs were met, by failing to address flea infestations and chronic skin conditions were treated adequately.

A local vet called in to assist in the operation said the whole house resembled a ‘death trap’, with a mat of ‘rotting excrement’ almost covering the floor, giving him the impression that the house was totally unsuitable for animal habitation, let alone humans.

An RSPCA inspector told the court how he retched on encountering the overpowering stench of faeces and urine on 6 July 2017.

Mike Kelleher, defending, said Lewis had suffered from depression and that she and Sampson – both unemployed – had suffered various problems at the house, including burst pipes and an overflowing toilet.

He added that, while the property was in ‘a terrible state’, the animals themselves were fed and exercised, while the couple tried to treat the dogs’ skin conditions and hair loss through a change in diet and shampoo.

“This was not a deliberate action of cruelty,” he said.

Sentencing:
12-month conditional discharge with a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement. £315 each in costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for five years (expires January 2023).

County Echo

Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire: Carly Bennett

#TheList Carly Bennett, born 30/12/1989, of Trowbridge Crescent, Bentilee, Stoke-on-Trent ST2 0JJ – starved an adult bullmastiff dog and  four puppies; kept them in hazardous conditions in a garden strewn with rubbish

Dog abuser Carly Bennett from Stoke-on-Trent and the puppies she starved and neglected

The RSPCA rescued four emaciated puppies from mother-of-six Carly Bennett.

Bennett had put the dogs in a crate and left them outside on a pile of rubbish because they kept her awake at night.

The RSPCA  returned to Bennett’s property three months later and found a severely-malnourished adult dog.

The court heard that the RSPCA inspector first visited the property in May 2017.

Prosecutor Roger Price said: “There was no-one in at the time, so the inspector made inquiries locally. She was told by a neighbour that the puppies had spent the night in a crate in the garden, on top of a pile of rubbish.

“The inspector returned later that day and was allowed in by Mrs Bennett. She said her husband had taken the puppies away.

“The inspector went into the back garden and was immediately hit by a very offensive smell. She saw three adult dogs, which were in good condition.

“The garden was full of rubbish. There were car parts and other items regarded as hazardous to the animals.”

The court heard the inspector then heard whining from behind a door. She opened it and the four bullmastiff puppies ran out.

Mr Price said: “They ran into the garden and started rooting around in the rubbish bags. They appeared immediately to the inspector to be ravenous and desperate to find something to eat and drink.”

Bennett handed the animals over to the inspector and they were taken to a vet, who found all four were emaciated.

Mr Price said: “The vet said the smell given off by the pups, which were seven to nine weeks old, was awful. It was typical of living in dirty conditions with urine and faeces.”

When interviewed, Bennett said the night before the inspector visited she had been woken by the puppies, so decided to put them outside, despite the fact it was raining.

Left to starve by dog abuser Carly Bennett, Stoke-on-Trent
Happily all of the dogs have recovered from their ordeal at the hands of obese animal abuser Carly Bennett

The same inspector was called back to Bennett’s house in August by a police officer who had attended for an unrelated matter and saw an adult dog that appeared to be malnourished.

The inspector found the dog, which was also a bullmastiff, had been present when she visited in March, but had been in a healthy condition.

However the animal, called Hooch, was now emaciated and the garden was still in the same hazardous state.

Bennett pleaded guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, and two of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal for which she was responsible.

The court heard she had no previous convictions. All the rescued dogs have since recovered from their ordeal.

Sentencing:
12-month community order with a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement. Total of £455 fines, costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires January 2028).

Stoke Sentinel