Marstow, Ross-on-Wye: puppy farmer Leigh Hancock

#TheList Leigh Hancock, born February 1984, of 1 Old Dry Arch Cottages, Marstow, Ross-on-Wye HR9 6EQ – ran a puppy farm and conned buyers they were ‘family-raised pets’

Illegal Lydney puppy dealer Leigh Hancock was jailed for nine months
Illegal puppy dealer Leigh Hancock was jailed for nine months

Leigh Hanock pleaded guilty to illegally selling puppies and laundering the proceeds of his crimes

The puppy farmer, formerly of Rodley Road, Lydney, Gloucester, was turning out “conveyor belt puppies” which were in poor condition when he sold them.

The court heard Hancock “blitzed” social media with adverts for Golden Retriever and Labrador puppies that were purportedly the result of ‘accidental pregnancies’ but were in fact from the puppy farm he ran from an adapted shed in the back of his former home in  Lydney.

Adult dogs found in Leigh Hancock's back garden in an adapted shed
Adult dogs found in Leigh Hancock’s back garden in an adapted shed

He would say the puppies were socialised with humans, children and other family pets when the reality was they were kept in cages in the shed.

Trading standards officers analysed a series of advertisements that Hancock placed under various pseudonyms.

Prosecutor Rosamund Rutter said: “A hundred adverts were associated with the defendant – and seven mobile numbers.”

Hancock used various email addresses including the name of one of his children on one email. This was ‘to avoid advertising platforms suspecting he was a trader rather than private seller.’

“When analysed it was noted they were worded in a strikingly similar manner, and contained similar grammatical errors,” the barrister said.

Ms Rutter told the judge of members of the public who were looking for family pets and were assured that was what they were buying.

She added that Hancock even told one couple he and his family were ‘heartbroken they had to give the puppy up.’

The offences dated between June 2016 and March 2017 but Ms Rutter told the court that the operation was running before then.

She described it as a “conveyor belt of puppies, in poor conditions”.

Hancock admitted placing 60 advertisements between July 2016 and March 2017 which implied the pups he was selling were from a family home.

He also admitted withdrawing £23,134.56 of ‘criminal property’ from his bank on March 29 2017 when authorities executed a search warrant at his address and he became aware they were there.

Recorder Ben Browne QC told the defendant the puppies were: “A very different proposition from what you advertised.”

“In each case the set up was to make it look like it was, but it was blatantly untrue.”

Sentencing:
Nine months in jail. £1,800 in fines.

GloucestershireLive
BBC News

Falkirk: Laurence Brown

#TheList Laurence Brown, born. c. 1958, of Derwent Avenue, Falkirk FK1 5HZ – trapped neighbour’s cat in an illegal and inhumane fox snare

Cruel Laurence Brown bought an illegal snare off the internet and used it to trap his neighbour's cat. Miraculously she was unhurt.
Cruel Laurence Brown bought an illegal snare off the internet and used it to trap his neighbour’s cat. Miraculously she was unhurt.

Brown told the court he set a fox-snare for his neighbour’s cat because she wouldn’t stop fouling in his hot tub

The lorry driver had tried screens, pepper, and even lion dung after the feline began to ‘repeatedly’ defecate in the heated outdoor whirlpool.

After these attempts failed to stop the cat, Brown bought a snare on the Internet and set it where the animal was squeezing through the palings of the fence that divided his garden from the cat’s.

Prosecutor Susan Campbell said: ‘His garden backs onto their garden, and the gardens are separated by a six foot fence which has spaces which the cat can fit through.

‘On 22nd June the owner of the cat heard a yowling noise coming from the area of the fence.

‘He saw his cat dashing and realised that she had a piece of wire round her neck.

‘It was a loop of yellow wire with a small metal fixing and there was no stopper on the device which would have prevented it from continuing to tighten.

‘He got some scissors and cut it off. The cat was not injured.’

Ms Campbell said the cat’s owner – who was not named – challenged Brown about the incident, who claimed he was ‘trying to catch foxes’.

But on Wednesday November 28 Brown pleaded guilty to setting an illegal and inhumane snare and trapping the cat, whereby she became entangled and unable to free herself, causing her unnecessary suffering.

He also admitted contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act by setting a snare ‘calculated to cause unnecessary suffering’ to any animal coming into contact with it, in that it had no ‘stop’ on its noose.

Sheriff James MacDonald told Brown:  ‘You had a limited record when you appeared before me, but you now have a conviction for animal cruelty, and that will live with you.

‘Not only that, you will have to live with the consequences of your actions – not least of which is knowing that your neighbour knows that you set a trap for his cat, which on the basis of the narration given to me by the Crown, can only have been with the intent to either maim that animal or at least cause it significant injury.

‘Fortunately for you it was unhurt, but I should tell you this: Parliament intended these offences to be taken seriously, and that is why Parliament provided me with the power to send you to prison for up to 12 months.

‘You should understand that if there is any repeat of this sort of behaviour, the court will undoubtedly regard it seriously.’

Sentencing:
Fined £300. 

Daily Mail

Llansantffraid, Powys: Sarah Rose Morris and Debbie Smitherman

#TheList Sarah Rose Morris and Debbie Smitherman, both of Winllan Farm, Llansantffraid, Powys SY22 6TP – for animal cruelty offences relating to a 2yo Welsh cross pony named Holly

Sarah Rose Morris and Debbie Smitherman were banned from keeping horses after leaving their pony to starve
Sarah Rose Morris and Debbie Smitherman were banned from keeping horses after leaving their pony to starve

Morris and Smitherman both pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the pony when they appeared before Welshpool Magistrates Court.

Jo Barr, founder of not-for-profit equine rescue and rehoming  centre Totem Horses, who were involved in Holly’s rescue, said: “Having previously worked for the RSPCA for 10 years I honestly thought I had seen everything. But when we went to collect Holly, I could not believe what I saw.

“They had shut her in the trailer three days before as she was cold, but the pony was lying in her own urine with no food or water. I was amazed she was still alive.

“All of her bones were visible and the skin on her withers and in other places had broken down. It beggars belief two so-called horse lovers could allow an animal to be in that state, shut in a trailer dying just feet away from the back door of their house.”

Holly was signed over to Totem, who sought immediate veterinary treatment for her and alerted the RSPCA. At this stage it was touch and go whether she would survive.

Jo said: “For the first three nights I slept in the barn with Holly as she had drips and other treatment,” she said. “I had to lift her head to give her water and feed from a scoop as she wasn’t even strong enough to lift it herself.”

“Lower House Equine Clinic were brilliant and made sure she had pain relief and fluids everything else she needed around the clock. I was determined that if we did lose her she would not die alone – so I stayed with her.

“Thankfully she didn’t, but it still it took a further two weeks before she was actually strong enough to stand up without some help.”

She added: “I am very grateful to RSPCA inspector Phil Lewis for everything he did as well and I could not have saved Holly without the support of our volunteers Lyddy, Kelly, Holly and Jiri, and also Helen and Adam who got involved later on and helped this young pony to regain her trust in people.

Sarah Rose Morris and Debbie Smitherman were banned from keeping horses after leaving their pony to starve
Holly at Totem Horses

“I am very pleased the court recognised the serious nature of the neglect and also the RSPCA exists to investigate and make sure the people responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

Totem Horses is now appealing for a home for Holly. The not-for-profit horses go out on a loan agreement and homes are subject to regular home visits.

Holly is still a young pony and it takes a while for her to trust new people so she needs an experienced home anywhere in England and Wales where she will get regular handling.

For further information or to offer Holly a home visit Totem Horse’s website or its Facebook page.

Sentencing:
Morris and Smitherman were ordered to each pay a £300 fine, £250 legal costs to the RSPCA and a £30 victim surcharge.  Both were banned from keeping horses or ponies for 10 years.

Shropshire Star

 

Retford, Nottinghamshire: Reece Donohue

#TheList Reece Donohue, born c. 1993, of Wharton Street, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 7EH – kicked his housemate’s beloved cat to death

Cat killer Reece Donohue of Retford, Nottinghamshire
Reece Donohue and cats Marley (left) and Milo

Former special constable Reece Donohue eventually admitted kicking two-year-old cat Marley to death, after initially claiming he had been attacked by another cat in the house.  That cat, named Milo, was found hiding in the property.

Marley’s owner Amanda Attwood discovered blood splattered on the walls and furnishings after she returned to the home she shared with Donohue.

Cat killer Reece Donohue of Retford, Nottinghamshire
Marley’s owner was horrified to find blood splattered on walls and furniture

She was then horrified to discover her pet’s dead body lying on the floor.

A post-mortem carried out on Marley showed he had been kicked multiple times in the head and had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

He also suffered a broken jaw and had been kicked in the stomach and lungs.

His kidneys and intestines had also haemorrhaged.

Cat killer Reece Donohue of Retford, Nottinghamshire
A post-mortem on Marley’s body showed he had suffered multiple injuries

Amanda had only lived with Donohue for a few weeks, having moved in at the end of March 2018. She left straight after the incident.

Amanda said: “Marley was such a loving cat, he would always want to get everyone’s attention when people would see him.”

Amanda Attwood with her beloved pet cat Marley, who was brutally killed by former special constable Reece Donohue
Amanda Attwood with her beloved pet cat Marley, who was brutally killed by former special constable Reece Donohue

Donohue pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a cat by subjecting him to unnecessary physical violence which led to his death.

Reece Donohue from Retford has received a suspended prison sentence after admitting kicking his former housemate's cat to death.

The court heard the offence happened after  Donohue had been drinking and that he had tried to cover up the offence.

Sentencing:12-week prison term, suspended for 12 months. 150 hours of unpaid work. Banned from owning or keeping animals for life.

LincolnshireLive

Broughton, Chester: Carl and Melanie Hollis

#TheList Carl Stephen Hollis, born c. 1962, and Melanie Hollis, born c. 1967, both of 4x Warren Drive, Broughton, Chester CH4 0PT – for animal cruelty offences towards two dogs and five cats

Carl and Melanie Hollis are banned from keeping animals for 10 years after neglecting dogs and cats at their home
Carl and Melanie Hollis are banned from keeping animals for 10 years after neglecting dogs and cats at their home

The court heard that Carl Hollis, owner of a plastering and joinery business called Hollis Construction, was responsible for two elderly labrador dogs, both of whom were suffering from a skin condition. Five flea-riddled and underweight cats found at the property were the responsibility of Melanie Hollis.  None of the pets had received veterinary treatment.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Prosecuting, Chris Murphy said the couple had received RSPCA advice and a voucher for veterinary care in September 2017 and December 2017 following concern for the two dogs.

When an RSPCA inspector visited the Hollises on June 30, 2018, she was informed the couple had gone on a two-week holiday, due to return on July 10, and had left their sons to periodically go round and check on the animals.

On initial sight there were 10 cats seen at the property and there was dried cat and dog food in the bowls.

It was noted both dogs had extensive hair loss and there was a strong smell of ammonia in the front room, with puddles on the floor and dirty water in the bowls.

In total there were seven cats, six kittens and two labradors at the property. However, it was accepted most of the cats were either strays or not owned by the couple.

All animals were taken to the vets to be checked over. None of the them were microchipped.

One of the cats – who was about 20 years old – had to be put to sleep, but  the court heard that all of the other animals are doing well and that some had been rehomed.

When interviewed, Carl Hollis admitted to ownership of the dogs – who were in their mid to late teens – and said he did not take the dogs  to the vet for fear they would be put to sleep.

Melanie Hollis accepted the cats had not received the veterinary care they should have. She admitted she had taken on “far more than she could chew” by letting in stray cats .

The couple’s two sons were spoken to and claimed that they had visited the property daily to check on the animals.

Defending Melanie Hollis, Richard Thomas said she had been looking after animals for more than 30 years and there had been no prior advice for her from the RSPCA regarding the welfare of the cats.

It had been accepted the 20-year-old cat was in poor health and was dying, and would likely be put to sleep if he had been taken to the vets, but “misplaced loyalty” meant his owner could not face doing it.

With all the animals at the home, the situation had “become slightly chaotic,” Mr Thomas added.

Although Carl Hollis was not represented, Mr Thomas said on his behalf: “He had owned these animals for 15-16 years; he tried to treat them at home but admittedly should have taken them to the vets. There was nothing deliberate about the mistreatment.”

Carl Hollis added: “I apologise for the mistreatment, I was ignorant.”

Sentencing:
12-month community order:  Carl Hollis must complete 200 hours unpaid work while Melanie Hollis must do 150 hours unpaid work. Total of £530 each in costs and charges.  Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

The Standard

 

Liskeard, Cornwall: Briony Coster

#TheList Briony Coster, born c. 1976, of no fixed above but with links to Liskeard, Cornwall, and Paignton in Devon – abandoned her pet parrots in an empty property

Briony Coster was banned from keeping birds after abandoning parrots
Briony Coster was banned from keeping birds after abandoning parrots

Coster admitted leaving an African grey parrot, who was found in a dirty cage with stale water, and a blue and gold macaw, who was discovered in a cluttered room on a stand with some food and stale water, alone in a property in Liskeard for six days in July 2018.

Both birds – which were underweight when they were rescued – were removed with the authority of the landlord, who had repossessed the property, and taken to a vets for examination.

RSPCA deputy chief inspector Suzy Hannaby, who investigated for the animal welfare charity, said: “There is never an excuse for simply walking away and leaving an animal to potentially face a long slow death from starvation.

“There is help available for those who, for whatever reason, find themselves unable to provide for their animals and we encourage people to seek out this help, rather than abandoning an animal.”

The two birds, which have since recovered in foster care, will be found new homes.

Sentencing:
12-month conditional discharge. Fines and charges of £470. Banned from keeping all avian species for two years.

CornwallLive

 

Workington, Cumbria: Richard Blair-Forster

#TheList Richard Blair-Forster, born 26/12/1995, of 2x Walker Road, Workington CA14 5EX – neglected four dogs, two of whom almost died

Blair_Forster was jailed for starving four dogs and assaulting the RSPCA inspector trying to rescue them
Thug Richard Blair_Forster was jailed for starving four dogs and assaulting the RSPCA inspector trying to rescue them

Richard Blair-Forster, who lives with his mother and sister neither of whom faced charges, admitted neglecting German Shepherds Bailey, Rocco and Denver and Golden Retriever Mia.

Steven Marsh, prosecuting, told magistrates that when RSPCA Inspector Martyn Fletcher visited Blair-Forster’s home he described the dogs as lethargic and emaciated and in need of immediate medical attention.

Mr Marsh said: “The defendant refused to allow the dogs to be removed and the RSPCA inspector had to leave and request police assistance due to threats being made.”

Two of the dogs had to be carried into the veterinary surgery, Millcroft Vets, as they were unable to bear their own weight.

The examining vet found the pets to be considerably underweight, with muscle loss and suffering from dehydration. She estimated the neglect had been taking place for around two months.

Bailey only weighed 15.2 kg instead of the expected 34-43 kg when he was found. It took 25 days of medical care for him to recover before he could go to foster care. It was five days before he could hold his head up and six days before he could stand.

Another one of the German Shepherds had to be hospitalised for 12 days and given treatment such as intravenous fluids.

Mr Marsh said: “The vet said in 17 years of veterinary practice she had never seen dogs as starved as these two. The dogs have gone on to make good recovery.”

Four dogs were starved by Richard Blair-Forster of Workington but have recovered
Golden Retriever Mia has recovered thanks to the efforts of the RSPCA and their vet
Four dogs were starved by Richard Blair-Forster of Workington but have recovered
Bailey has also recovered since being taken into the care of the RSPCA
Four dogs were starved by Richard Blair-Forster of Workington but have recovered
Rocco has also made a good recovery following treatment by the RSPCA and their vet
Four dogs were starved by Richard Blair-Forster of Workington but have recovered
Looking healthier: German Shepherd Denver whom the Blair-Forster family had bred from

During a police interview, Blair-Forster told officers he “fed the dogs near-enough every day.” He also claimed he bought their food before he fed himself due to financial difficulties.

Ryan Foley, defending, told the court his client “accepts these dogs shouldn’t have been in that state in the first place, but the cause is incompetent care rather than something more nasty.”

Four dogs were starved by Richard Blair-Forster of Workington but have recovered
Richard Blair-Forster said he fed his four dogs “every other day”.

Mr Foley added the defendant struggled to cope issues in his personal life, lacked maturity and often buried his head rather than deal with problems.

Speaking after the sentencing Inspector Fletcher said: “This result shows how seriously the magistrates have taken this. If you have animals you have to take responsibility for them. Three of the dogs are already in foster care and are doing brilliantly.

“I’d like to highlight the work Millcroft vets did. When we took the first two dogs to them we told each other they were too far gone to be saved. But Millcroft did a sterling job to bring them round. They were as close to death as I’ve ever seen.”

The dogs will now be rehomed by the RSPCA.

Sentencing: 
Jailed for 16 weeks for the animal cruelty offence. He was also given two further weeks in jail for assaulting RSPCA Inspector Fletcher. £115 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping any animal for 15 years.

News and Star

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Rowan West travellers site, Darlington: William Henry Welch and William Chates

#TheList William (‘Billy’) Henry Welch, born c. 1989, and William Chates, born c. 1965, both of Rowan West caravan site, Levisham Lane, Darlington DL2 1QZ – for “horrific and abhorrent” cockfighting offences

Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights
Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights

North Yorkshire Police officers described footage of the cockfights, recorded on a mobile phone, as one of the worst examples of animal cruelty they had ever seen – and hailed the “landmark” custodial sentence.

On 13 January 2018, acting on an anonymous call to the police control room, officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce and the RSPCA attended premises at Skutterskelf, near Stokesley, North Yorkshire.

A number of men were located there. Officers searched buildings and vehicles, and seized a total of 27 live birds, some of which were bleeding from fresh cuts to the body and head. Inside a stable block, officers located bird feathers, and dried and fresh bloodstains on the floor and carpet.

During the enquiry, an examination was carried out on a mobile phone recovered from Welch, which revealed he was present at a number of other cockfights, on 19 December 2017 and 4 January 2018.

Investigators described the extremely graphic video footage on the phone as “sickening”.

The RSPCA provided expert evidence about the condition of the birds, and arranged for their safe storage and ongoing care.

Billy Welch pleaded guilty to charges of causing an animal fight to take place, keeping animals for fighting, and being present at an animal fight on three occasions in December 2017 and January 2018.

Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights
William Henry Welch

Jailing Welch, magistrates told him: “You put your own recreational needs before the welfare of your animals, in the most horrific and abhorrent circumstances.”

William Chates pleaded guilty to being present at an animal fight.

Two further defendants were found not guilty.

Sentencing:
Billy Welch was sentenced to 20 weeks in jail, disqualified from keeping all animals for 20 years, and ordered to pay a total of £2,000 costs.

William Chates was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work, disqualified from keeping all animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay £170 costs.

North Yorkshire Police
Northern Echo

Moss Side, Manchester: Juliet Venables and John Anderson

#TheList Juliet Venables, born c. 1968, and son John Anderson, born c. 1995, both of 1x Fairman Street, Manchester M16 7LR  – let their pet dog’s skin condition get so bad he had to be put to sleep

Mastiff Rocco had to be put down after his owners, Juliet Venables and John Anderson, let his skin condition deteriorate to a shocking level
Mastiff Rocco had to be put down after his owners, Juliet Venables and John Anderson, let his skin condition deteriorate to a shocking level

Venables and Anderson pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences when they appeared in court.

The court heard the pair took no action when their loyal dog Rocco began losing his hair and developed crusty, thickened skin alongsidea chronic ear infection.

The mastiff-type dog became so ill that another family member took pity on him, and got him checked out at Greater Manchester Animal Hospital in July 2018.

Veterinary staff decided that the kindest thing to do for Rocco was to put him to sleep.

The court were told how the pair were sorry for what they did and realised they should have acted sooner.

RSPCA inspector Angela Paxton-Taylor said: “Rocco had severe hair loss and crusty thickened skin so it was quite clear he needed veterinary treatment and would have been suffering.

“This case goes to show if your pet appears unwell you should seek veterinary attention straight away, never just leave it and allow the suffering to continue until it gets to the point when nothing can be done.

“In this case I believe both defendants were unaware just how bad things had become and they did co-operate and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”

Sentencing:

Total of £410 fines, costs and charges each. Banned from owing any animals for just three years (expires November 2021). 

Manchester Evening News

Newry, County Down: Richard Crozier

#TheList Richard Crozier of Annsville, Newry BT34 1AB – for a catalogue of neglect towards  five adult dogs, four dependant pups and four ferrets in his care.

Richard Crozier was banned from keeping animals after pets were found in ‘appalling’ conditions at his home
Richard Crozier was banned from keeping animals after pets were found in ‘appalling’ conditions at his home

A case was brought against Crozier by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council following a complaint about the condition of animals living at his home.

When council animal welfare officers visited Crozier’s home on March 4, 2016 they found the conditions in which the animals were being kept to be “appalling”.

Sadly, a lurcher-type dog had already died. The dog, who was wearing a muzzle, was chained to a kennel.  He had several open wounds on his legs and was skeletal. A post mortem found that the dog was severely emaciated.

The animals were all deemed to be suffering and were taken into the possession of the council.

In court, Crozier pleaded guilty to all four charges which were brought by the council under the provisions of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Sentencing: 
Total fines of £1000. Disqualified from keeping animals for just five years (expires November 2023).

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