Lincolnshire Pig Abusers: Gavin Hardy, Arturs Grigorjevs and Troy Wagstaff

#TheList Gavin Hardy, born 29/09/1979, of 18 Greengate Lane, Immingham DN40 3EZ, Troy Wagstaff, born 06/03/1988, of Willow House, Willow Close, Ulceby DN39 6UR, and Arturs Grigorjevs, born 02/11/1986, of 116 Weatherill Street, Goole DN14 6ED – relentlessly abused pigs by kicking them in the face and jabbing them with pitchforks; caught on camera slamming a gate into an animal’s head

Trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire
These three men regularly subjected defenceless pigs to “gratuitous, appalling and sickening” brutality

Hardy, Wagstaff and Grigorjevs, former employees of Goxhill’s Fir Tree Farm, which is operated by Elsham Linc, all admitted causing unnecessary suffering to pigs.

The case was brought by the RSPCA following an undercover investigation by animal rights group Animal Equality.

Hidden cameras were put inside the farm and these uncovered horrific footage of abuse.

The main culprit was Troy Wagstaff, a supervisor who, ironically, was actually the farm’s designated animal welfare manager responsible for animal welfare practice.

Trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire
A severely scarred pig at Fir Tree Farm

Wagstaff admitted abusing numerous pigs between April 2 and April 27, 2018, by causing unnecessary suffering through inflicting blunt force trauma and physical violence.

He denied a second charge of abusing a pig by spraying paint into its nose. The prosecution offered no evidence on that matter.

Gavin Hardy, one of the trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire.
Gavin Hardy

Gavin Hardy admitted causing unnecessary suffering to two pigs at the farm through inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and the inappropriate use of a pitchfork between April 25 and 27, 2018.

Arturs Grigorjevs, one of the trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire.
Arturs Grigorjevs

Latvian national Arturs Grigorjevs admitted causing unnecessary suffering to four pigs through inflicting blunt force trauma, physical violence and the inappropriate use of a pitchfork,when knowing that the act was likely to have this effect.

Cameras were planted in Fir Tree Farm after suspicions that pigs were being ill-treated and these revealed pigs being subjected to horrific abuse.

The pigs’ squeals can be heard as they try to escape from the men around the pens.

Gordon Holt, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Grimsby Magistrates’ Court that there was “repeated abuse and cruelty” to “multiple pigs”.

Wagstaff was the unit’s supervisor for nine months and had worked there since 2006.

He was the designated animal welfare manager and had monthly meetings with others about animal welfare practice.

Hardy was a stockman and had worked at the farm for about 20 years.

Grigorjevs had worked with pigs for about nine years.

Elsham Linc, which is owned by the Godfrey family, sacked the men after an investigation, saying the actions were “abhorrent behaviour that does not represent our business”.

Gavin Hardy, one of the trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire.
A ticking time bomb? Gavin Hardy’s own solicitor admitted that his client was desensitised to animal suffering having worked on Godfreys’ pig farm for 20 years

Gavin Hardy had shown “no remorse”, his legal team said. His lawyers claimed he was ”desensitised” to the rearing and slaughtering of pigs after working at the farm for 20 years.

Wagstaff was described by his lawyers as “weak and foolish” but “full of remorse”.

Latvian national Arturs Grigorjevs, one of the trio responsible for horrific abuse of pigs at Fir Tree Farm in Goxhill, Lincolnshire.
Latvian Grigorjevs pictured outside court

The court heard Artis Grigorjevs recognised that his behaviour was unacceptable.

The three were given an eight-week suspended prison sentence, 100 hours’ unpaid work and were banned from working with or transporting commercial livestock indefinitely. They must each pay £500 costs and a Government-imposed £115 victims’ surcharge.

Grimsby Telegraph

Ilkley, West Yorkshire: Austin Hawke

#TheList gamekeeper Austin Hawke, born 1967, of The Bungalow, Ling Park, Ilkley LS29 0EJ – killed a badger in a trap

A badger died a cruel and horrible neglect as a result of gamekeeper Austin Hawke’s cavalier attitude towards wildlife management

The badger had been lured to a ‘stink pit’ at High Denton Farm, near Ilkley, where dead and decaying animals are legitimately placed in a pile to lure vermin so they can be destroyed.

Austin Hawke – a head keeper of the Denton Park Estate, had denied failing to inspect a snare every day it remained in position. The offence was contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Hawke had set eight wire snares at four entrances to a 25 metre by 25 metre fenced off area of moorland before Easter 2018.

The aim was to lure foxes, the target species which Hawke had a licence from Defra to destroy, to the pit.

The square pit had four entrance holes cut into the fencing mesh with the snares placed nearby.

The pit was around 100 metres away from a footpath.

However, Hawke claimed the snares had been ‘deactivated’ on Good Friday (March 30, 2018) because he was conscious there could be an increase in visitors and walkers to the moorland over the Easter break.

The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they trap animals indiscriminately and cause tremendous suffering. Not that this would faze a gamekeeper like Austin Hawke

He said, generally, deactivating snares involved loosening the wire so the loop part, which the animals are snared by, is made smaller and wrapped around a ‘tealer’, a semi-rigid wire which holds the loop in the air at the correct height, and laying it down in undergrowth nearby.

On this occasion he admitted the snares had been left in situ but said the loops had been loosened and made so small as to prevent hares or badgers getting tangled in them.

He said the idea was to re-set them after a few weeks.

Prosecuting Rob Yates said the badger had been found by walker and bird watcher Andrew Jowett on May 28 last year.

The police were called to the site. Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police, said he attended the site, one kilometre north of High Denton Farm, on May 29. The dead badger was in one of the snares which was attached to a wooden stake in the ground and “looked as if it had been dead for several days”. He said it was in such an advanced state of decay that its innards fell away when it was raised from the ground. He said the snare had cut into the badger’s flesh.

Hawke acknowledged legislation required gamekeepers to check snares at least once every 24 hours but he argued that as he had deactivated them there was no reason to check them.

He said he had been a gamekeeper for 35 years.

He said when in use, the traps and snares are checked daily and any non-target species trapped in them, such as hares and badgers, are released.

“We don’t want to cause unnecessary suffering,” Hawke said, stating he regarded the capture of a non-target species as a ‘tragedy’.

He said he had made an inspection of the area prior to setting the snares and he had seen no evidence of badgers being present, which can be seen through their droppings or hair on fences.

Defending, Amber Walker said her client had an exemplary record as a game keeper and was skilled in his job and honest.

“The snares were not left in such a state they posed a threat to non-target species. Mr Hawke has said if he had not been sure of this he would have gone back to check,” she said.

She also claimed there was a possibility that animal rights activists could have been responsible in order to have the blame laid at the feet of the game keeper.

“Removing a head keeper (through conviction) would be quite a scalp (by some activists) even if it meant the death of a badger,” she said.

Mr Yates claimed it was unlikely that animal rights people who campaigned against animal cruelty and disapproved of capturing animals would set snares.

Instead, he said Hawke had left the snares in position and was under a legal obligation to check them every 24 hours.

Magistrates found Hawke guilty of the charge, but stated it was an ‘isolated act of negligence, rather than intent’.

Sergeant Kev Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, said: “This case was reported following a member of the public who was aware of our proactive work under Operation Owl.

“From the evidence collected, it was apparent that the badger had suffered before it had eventually died after being caught in the snare. Therefore this case was fully investigated to ensure other animals didn’t undergo the same fate.

“If the defendant had been using breakaway snares it is less likely that he would have killed the badger.

“I am disappointed as we have been doing some really good partnership working with local Nidderdale keepers who want to show the public good practice and accountability.

“Hawke’s conviction will no doubt have an impact on how his profession is viewed. I think he has done his wider colleagues a disservice.”

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA National Wildlife Coordinator, said: “The RSPCA continues to work closely with the North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force and this result highlights the strength of partnership working under Operation Owl.

“This badger will have suffered a horrific and prolonged death having been snared in this way.

“The RSPCA is against the use of snares because they are indiscriminate in what they catch and they cause tremendous suffering. But while they remain legal we hope we can work together with the Police and National Gamekeepers’ Organisation to raise awareness of the good practice guide so as to improve accountability.”

Sentencing: 12-month conditional discharge. Costs and charges totalling £645.

Telegraph and Argus

Speke, Liverpool: Scott Doran

#TheList Scott Bradley Doran, born c. 1988, most recently of Greyhound Farm Road, Speke, Liverpool L24 but with links to Runcorn, Cheshire – assaulted a terrified Staffy and dangled him off the edge of a bridge

Cruel Scott Doran currently of Speke in Liverpool, assaulted a helpless Staffy before dangling the terrified dog from the edge of a footbridge. Despite this, he will be allowed to have animals again in five years' time.
Cruel Scott Doran currently of Speke in Liverpool, assaulted a helpless Staffy before dangling the terrified dog from the edge of a footbridge. Despite this, he will be allowed to have animals again in five years’ time.

Scott Doran was convicted of causing unnecessary cruelty after denying a charge of inflicting “blunt force trauma and physical violence” to the brindle Staffy, named Coban.

Habitual criminal Doran was filmed on CCTV assaulting the dog outside Costcutter on Northwich Road in Brookvale, Runcorn , on March 17, 2016.

North Cheshire Magistrates’ Court heard how Doran had been seen attacking Coban, resulting in an investigation led by RSPCA inspector Naomi Norris.

Local authority CCTV showing a “sustained and violent attack” on the dog.

Cruel Scott Doran currently of Speke in Liverpool, assaulted a helpless Staffy before dangling the terrified dog from the edge of a footbridge. Despite this, he will be allowed to have animals again in five years' time.
Career criminal and animal abuser Scott Bradley Doran has links to Runcorn in Cheshire

In the clip, Doran can be seen outside the shop with the dog off the lead and no control over him.

As Doran walks away from shop the dog runs up to a family wagging his tail and it is then when Doran unleashes his attack.

The dog cowers on the floor as Doran picks him up and punches him.

He holds Coban up by the scruff of the neck with his feet off the floor and walks along violently shaking him.

The brutal attack then continues away from the view of the CCTV but a witness told how Doran continued to abuse the terrified pet, who was so frightened he defecated.

He then held the petrified dog over the railings of a footbridge.

Inspector Naomi Norris said: “This was a vicious and nasty attack on Coban who was clearly so terrified he can be seen cowering and the poor dog even defecated during the beating.

“Off camera the witness told how he continued to beat and kick the dog before holding him by the neck over the railings of a footbridge.”

Coban was seized the day after the attack and has since been re-homed by the RSPCA.

Doran, formerly of Cedar Avenue, Sutton Weaver, and Camelot Way, Runcorn, went on the run for two years and was arrested soon after a police car chase.

Sentencing: 12-month community order; fine and costs totalling £525; anger management course; rehabilitation requirement. Banned from keeping dogs for a mere five years.

Liverpool Echo

Methil, Fife: Alexander McGhee

#TheList Alexander Andrew McGhee, born 27/02/74, of 590 Wellesley Road, Methil, Fife KY8 3PF – battered his rescue dog to death in a drunken rage

Dog killer Alexander McGhee from Methil, Fife
Dog killer Alexander McGhee from Methil, Fife

The dog, named Murphy, suffered numerous injuries on his sides, lower back, abdomen and neck, as well as the brain bleed which caused him to die.

His owner Alexander “Eck” McGhee, a train driver with ScotRail based at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, had denied killing the lurcher, but was found guilty following a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

Dog killer Alexander McGhee from Methil, Fife
ScotRail train driver Alexander McGhee subjected a defenceless rescue dog to a prolonged brutal attack

Neighbours giving evidence described hearing a drunken McGhee return home in the early hours of the morning of 8 July 2017 followed by “yelping” and “scrabbling” noises coming from his flat.

They claimed to have heard an aggressive male voice shouting “bastard” and what sounded like “a dog being thrown against a wall”.

The couple said they were forced to leave the property because their own dog was so distressed by the horrific sounds coming from next door. They called police who attended some hours later.

During initial interview McGhee told police officers that Murray had bolted from the flat after he accidentally left the front door open.

Dog killer Alexander McGhee from Methil, Fife

McGhee said he had gone out to look for Murray and found him dead at the side of a nearby road. He said that the dog must have been hit by a vehicle. McGhee then led officers to the lurcher’s body which he had put in the boot of his car.

When asked by officers about injuries to his hand, which he appeared to be trying to hide with the sleeve of his jumper, McGhee claimed that he had punched the wall in temper after Murray escaped.

Veterinary evidence presented in court contradicted McGhee’s claims that Murray had been run over.

Veterinary pathologist Dr Bryn Tennant said he believed Murphy had sustained the injuries from being “hit, kicked or shaken with considerable force”.

Dr Tennant went on: “The outcome of the post-mortem examination was that this dog had been subjected to multiple traumatic incidents.

“The constellation of injuries, in my opinion, were not consistent with a road traffic accident.

“There is a very, very remote possibility that this dog was struck by a vehicle but from what I saw, I do not believe that happened on the basis on my examination.”

“The bleeding around the brain is the same as boxers get when they haemorrhage.”

Dr Tennant said that he would have expected to see damage to the skin and paws or crush injuries if the animal had been struck by a vehicle.

Giving evidence in his defence McGhee wept as he described how he had adopted Murray as a puppy in 2013 and he was “emaciated and full of worms and fleas”.

He described the dog, who was named after the tennis star Andy Murray, as “the biggest sook”, saying he would “go to anyone”.

Asked about the moment when he said he found Murray’s body, McGhee said: “He was just lying there. Just cold. Heavy.

“He had a tiny bit of blood coming out of his mouth. That was it.

There were four or five guys on their way to work at BiFab who asked me if it was my dog and offered to help me put him in the back of the car.”

Convicted dog killer Alexander McGhee from Methil in Fife

McGhee’s lawyer, Scott McKenzie, asked him: “The neighbours describe hearing a fairly distressing incident going on within your property with the dogs. Did you engage in any distressing conduct towards your dogs?”

He said: “I’m not going to rescue dogs to hurt them.”

Mr McKenzie asked: “Did you lose your temper with the dog and cause him so much pain that he was in agony for minutes or possibly hours before he died?”

McGhee: “No.”

Fiscal depute Ronnie Hay told McGhee he was lying and said he had actually come home from a night out in a drunken state.

Mr Hay said: “Is it not the case that you came home drunk, acting aggressively and you took it out on the dogs and one of the dogs paid the ultimate price?”

He continued: “The couple next door left their flat because of the noise emanating from his property.

“When they returned they spoke of a bottle of bleach being outside the premises that wasn’t there when they left.

“They were adamant the noises were not a dog fight.

“They spoke of a male voice talking aggressively using language such as ‘bastard’.

“One heard slapping sounds and one said it sounded like the dog was being thrown against a wall.”

McGhee dismissed these allegations as lies, however, believing the neighbours giving evidence against him had a grudge against his police officer partner.

Having considered all of the evidence, Sheriff Alistair Thornton said he was satisfied that McGhee had caused Murphy’s death by inflicting blunt force trauma and found him guilty.

Sentencing McGhee Sheriff Thornton told him: “The veterinary evidence provided in that case indicated the degree of blunt force trauma suffered by the dog was substantial.”

“The social work report I have read indicates you maintain your denial of the offence and accordingly there is no remorse expressed by you.”

However, he said that he had to consider the impact of a jail sentence on McGhee’s family and children and the fact that he was a working man with a productive life. Taking all of this into account he handed him a community payback order and a 20-year ban on owning or having sole custody of a dog.

McGhee and his partner have another rescue dog, Dora, who has been cared for by a relative when his partner is absent since the offence on July 8, 2017.

McGhee’s solicitor said a rescue charity [source article states the Scottish Greyhound Trust but this isn’t correct] had monitored Dora and there were no concerns about either her or a guinea pig the couple have.

McGhee was placed on a community payback order and told to perform 240 hours of unpaid work. He was also banned from owning or having sole custody of any dog for 20 years.

Evening Telegraph
The Courier
The Courier

=== petition to Alexander McGhee’s employer Abellio ScotRail asking them to make a stand against animal cruelty and dismiss him:

Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire: Mia Connor

#TheList Mia Beth Connor, born 21/12/97, formerly of Rockhampton Avenue, East Kilbride, and now of Greenfaulds Crescent, Cumbernauld G67 2PJ – for shocking neglect of cats, dogs and lizards

Presa Canario cross Hulk had been locked in a room by his irresponsible owner Mia Connor now of Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire
Presa Canario cross Hulk had been locked in a room by his irresponsible owner Mia Connor

An investigation by the Scottish SPCA found that single mother-of-one Mia Connor had kept her animals in atrocious conditions and deprived them of food and water.

By the time the SSPCA attended Connor’s then property in Westwood, East Kilbride, a bearded dragon and gecko had already died a slow and miserable death. Their decomposed and dessicated bodies were found in an unlit and unheated vivarium. A surviving dragon named Cheech was found to be suffering severe dehydration and hypothermia.

Connor had failed to feed other pets properly, including cats Nemo and MJ, a collie named Luka and a Presa Canario cross called Hulk. Luka especially was very underweight

Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards
Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards

SSPCA inspector Jack Marshall described being met with “an overpowering smell of faeces and urine” as he entered Connor’s property which was strewn with rubbish and faeces.

Foul conditions at the property in which animal abuser Mia Connor kept dogs, cats and lizards

Inspector Marshall continued: “Hulk was contained in a bedroom upstairs and when I entered, he was desperate to get out of the room. He was also in a very lean body condition. This room had an overwhelming stench of excrement and urine.

“The animals were transported immediately to the vet and upon examination all were found to be emaciated and dehydrated. Both dogs were given a body score of 2/5. Hulk had a very marked and generalised skin disease which appeared to have had very little treatment. Luka’s coat was in very poor condition and smelled strongly of urine.

“Both cats had evidence of flea infestation.

“Veterinary examination found this to be marked neglect over an extended period of time, for all of the animals, comprising deprivation of the most basic requirements for life, namely food and water. The timescale involved can’t be given precisely but would be expected to be over several weeks.

“Failing to provide for these animals clearly resulted in an unacceptable degree of unnecessary suffering and stress to all the animals involved.”

Connor pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animals but was let off with a paltry fine and a five-year ban on keeping animals.

£600 fine. Banned from keeping animals for just five years.

Daily Record

Methlick, Aberdeenshire: Marshall Hay

#TheList Marshall Hay, born c. 1940, of Castlehill, Methlick, Aberdeenshire AB41 – left three steer bovines to suffer in agony with ingrowing horns that had penetrated their skin; all three euthanised

Farmer Marshall Hay had a complete disregard for the welfare of his animals

Hay pled guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering under section 19 of the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to a black and white male steer, and consecutively two red male cattle.

Senior Scottish SPCA inspector Alison Simpson said, “This charge was dealt as Hay failed to seek standard veterinary treatment for his cattle, predominantly three males.

“The first of the three was a black and white castrated male, who, upon veterinary examination was discovered to have an ingrown right horn, protruding four inches into the sinus, creating a seven centimetre wide hole in his head. After removing the ingrown horn, dressing the wound and injecting antibiotics it was noticed he had a broken right tibia. The decision was immediately made to euthanise the cow to prevent further suffering.

“The second of the cattle in question, a red castrated male, was found to have both horns growing into the side of his head. The horn on the right hand side of his head was embedded into the soft tissue. The ingrown horn on the right side had punctured the skin 5 centimetres, leaving a hole in which you could insert a finger. The horn on the left hand side was also overgrown although not to such a bad extent.

“The last was also a red coloured castrated male. His right horn had also grown into his head and the left side round the front of his eye. The horn on the right hand side was embedded into the soft tissue and once removed, was also found to be piercing five centimetres into his head. The horn on the left hand side was obscuring the animal’s eye and starting to penetrate the skin.

“The decision was made to put both red males to sleep to prevent further suffering.

“We are happy that Hay pled guilty and this sentence handed down.

“Prosecution is always a last resort for the Scottish SPCA and every effort was made to work with Hay prior to this, however the disregard for his animal’s welfare led us to having no choice.

“The remaining cattle at that time were moved from the premises, however we are aware that after these cattle were moved, more have since arrived at Hay’s property.

“Hay has two months before the ban is enforced.”

Sentencing: two-year ban on keeping or owning cattle, suspended by two months.

Evening Express

Little Hulton, Manchester: Nick Wilburn

#TheList Nicholas John Wilburn (aka Nick Maddock), born 19/10/1990, of 8 Bank Lane, Little Hulton, Manchester M38 9UF – carried out DIY medical treatment on a wounded cat; set up a rescue for reptiles while still being subject of a three-year banning order

Convicted animal abuser Nick Wilburn from Little Hulton, Manchester
Serial animal abuser Nick John Wilburn from Little Hulton, Manchester, is also known as Nick Maddock

Serial animal abuser Nicholas Wilburn was banned from keeping animals for three years in November 2016 for cruelty offences involving a wounded cat named Jasper.

Wilburn self-diagnosed and self-treated Jasper using a substance made of alcohol which he applied to an open wound.

Wilburn self-diagnosed and self-treated Jasper’s condition and left the moggy in agony

He later advised another person to use the same treatment when he passed over care of the cat.

But RSPCA officers say the treatment administered by Wilburn would actually have caused Jasper additional pain and suffering.

At the time Wilburn was involved with Bolton-based exotic pet rescue MagnaRep, later renamed Nick’s Ark – which was shut down in April 2017 following an RSPCA raid.

Convicted animal abuser Nick Wilburn from Little Hulton, Manchester

A trial followed during which five people, including Wilburn’s mother, Sue Maddock, were cleared.

Nicholas and Ryan Wilburn, who have since separated, have now been convicted.

Wilburn was found guilty of breaching his disqualification from owning animals; and for owning a bush viper without a licence.

Convicted animal abusers Ryan and Nick Wilburn pictured outside court where they faced cruelty charges
Convicted animal abusers Ryan and Nick Wilburn pictured outside court where they faced cruelty charges

Nick Wilburn’s ex-husband Ryan Anthony Wilburn, born 29/07/1991, of Epping Drive, Sale, Trafford M33 5LN was found guilty of aiding and abetting the breach of a disqualification; and for owning a bush viper without a licence.

Anna McDonald, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said charity workers are still looking after 70 seized animals. Some died following the raid.

Convicted animal abuser Nick Wilburn from Little Hulton, Manchester

Sara-Lise Howe, defence lawyer for Nicholas Wilburn, pushed for a lenient sentence for her client, highlighting that he is a carer for his mother and another disabled woman.

“He has anxiety and depression,” she added.

“It was his involvement with animals which made him not have to take medication. His own health is affected by a continued disqualification.”

The judge banned Nicholas from owning animals for a further five years.

Judge John Temperley told him: “I am concerned that you do post a risk in relation to animals.

“I find you made a serious and persistent breach which took place over a matter of months. You showed an almost complete disregard [for the order] the court made.

“There was a risk of suffering or harm to a large number of animals kept at Nick’s Ark.”

Ryan Wilburn was said by the judge to have had a ‘misguided sense of loyalty’ to his husband when he got involved.

Defence lawyer, Sheila Whitehead, said: “[Ryan] is not a danger to any animal.

“His part in the charity was only to clean and feed the animals and follow the instructions of Nick.”

Judge Temperley said: “Nick was the more dominant one in the relationship.

“I accept that Nick was the driving force and that yours was a smaller role.”

Ryan escaped a disqualification order.

Nick Wilburn – 12-week suspended prison sentence; 200 hours of unpaid work; £500 costs. Banned from keeping animals for a further five years.
Ryan Wilburn – 200 hours of unpaid work; £500 costs; no ban.

Manchester Evening News

Aberdare, South Wales: Gavin Huw Towells

#TheList Gavin Huw Towells, born 31/05/1980, of Cae Coed, Cwmbach, Aberdare CF44 0BF – threw two pet rabbits into the bushes of a layby and drove off.

Gavin Huw Towells from Aberdare, South Wales, was jailed after being caught throwing rabbits into grass verge

Gavin Huw Towells was caught on CCTV intentionally throwing two rabbits into a grass verge – then driving off and leaving the cage behind.

Towells pleaded guilty to three offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to a tricolour female dutch rabbit and a brown female English lop eared rabbit by lifting them by their ears and throwing them, that he abandoned them, and also that he failed to provide them with a suitable living environment by confining them in an inadequate cage.

Towells was also prosecuted by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council for fly-tipping – as he left the rabbit cage at the location. He was fined £500 for this offence.

The court heard that Towells was caught on privately-owned CCTV getting out of his car in a layby on Abercynon Road, Abercynon, and getting out a small rabbit cage from his boot which he placed on the ground next to heavy undergrowth.

He then opens up the hutch and picks up a pet rabbit by the ear and hurls her into the undergrowth. He then picks up a second pet rabbit by an ear and hurls her in the same manner. He then drives off leaving the rabbit cage behind.

A witness who saw what had happened managed to confine the rabbits and they were taken to the RSPCA Merthyr Tydfil Veterinary Clinic where they were health checked and given pain relief for the redness to their ears, which is thought to have been caused by Towells when he threw them.

Gavin Huw Towells of Aberdare, South Wales is now banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
Cruel: Gavin Huw Towells of Aberdare, South Wales is now banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

In interview with the RSPCA Towells said he was taught by a pet store how to handle the rabbits in such a way so they didn’t kick him.

One of the two rabbits treated with appalling cruelty by Gavin Towells of Aberdare, South Wales
One of the two rabbits treated with appalling cruelty by Gavin Towells

RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper said: “The way in which Towells treated these poor rabbits is absolutely disgusting. There is just no need for it. The rabbits actually somersaulted many times before landing.

“There are plenty of charities out there who are willing to take in unwanted pets. Not only did he cause the rabbits unnecessary suffering by the way in which he threw them, he also would have caused them suffering by abandoning them.

“These are domestic rabbits who do not have the same instincts as a wild rabbits and would have probably become victim to a predator in a short amount of time. Luckily a very clued-up witness was able to save them from such a tragedy.”

The rabbits have now been successfully rehomed together.

Gavin Huw Towells of Aberdare, South Wales is now banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Scientific officer for RSPCA’s Companion Animals department, Dr Jane Tyson, added: “Rabbits should never be picked up by their ears. How they were handled in this case would have been very stressful for them and highly likely to cause injury.

“Rabbits also have very fragile spines which can easily fracture from incorrect handling. When they are held, the handling should be gentle but firm and their body weight should be fully supported with one hand always supporting their back and hindquarters. If they feel insecure and struggle when being held they can sustain serious injuries such as fractures.”

Sentencing: eight-week prison sentence for the animal welfare offences; total of £515 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Leader Live
Wales Online
ITV News

Boxley, Kent: Langley Beck

#TheList Langley Beck, born c. 1963, or Bell Lane, Boxley, Maidstone, Kent ME14 39G – kept seven dogs and three ducks without water inside his home

Langley Beck from Boxley, Kent, has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions
Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

Reclusive Langley Beck is said to own 80 acres of property but kept dogs in rooms with surfaces and furniture covered in excrement. Three ducks were found in a ‘hot’ caravan where all the doors and windows were closed. It is believed they had been left without water for 12 hours and had to be euthanised.

Beck, who is believed to live alone at the bleak property in Boxley, is the last member of the area’s oldest farming family.

Medway Magistrates Court heard police and an RSPCA investigator visited his home in July 2017.

Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

RSPCA head investigator Ellie Burtcor entered one portacabin containing four dogs and said her eyes began to water from the stench.

She said: ‘It was absolutely disgusting, my eyes were watering with the urine smell that was coming from there.

‘There was an overwhelming smell of faeces and it was very damp and stagnant.

Langley Beck has been banned for life from keeping animals after housing dogs and ducks in appalling conditions

‘There were piles of faeces everywhere, faeces scraped along the floor, rubbish boxes, there were broken china ornaments.

‘Just everything that was completely unsuitable for a dog to be running around in.’

Giving evidence, Beck said the dogs had all been fed and given water that day and he would have been able to tend to the ducks if he hadn’t been occupied with the police arriving.

When asked about his routine of cleaning the areas the dogs lived in, he remained silent.

Despite the conditions, a vet who inspected the dogs said they were healthy.

A post mortem examination of the ducks concluded that they had gone at least 12 hours without water.

One was in such a bad state it was immediately put down while the other two were euthanised later.

Beck says his family have lived in Boxley for more than 100 years, making them the longest running residents of the village.

Sentencing: 20 days of rehabilitation activities, 100 hours of unpaid work; £1,800 in costs plus an £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for life.


Dog fighting ring based in Lincolnshire and North Wales: John Knibbs, Stephen Gardner, Adam Scott, Kim Steele

#TheList John Knibbs, born 04/02/64, most recently of Polyanthus Drive, Sleaford NG34 7HS, Stephen Gardner, born c. 1961, of Willows End, Bloxholm, Lincoln LN4 3QF, Adam Scott, born c. 1984 of Aber Eilian Bach, Llaneilian, Amlwch, Anglesey LL68 9LR and Kimberleigh Steele, also known as Kim Donaghy, born 24/02/88, of Downfield Walk, Plymouth PL7 2DT

Dog fighting ring members John Herbert Knibbs most recently of Sleaford, Adam Scott of Llaneilian, Anglesey and a badly injured dog named Baddy, whose body has never been found
Dog fighting ring members John Herbert Knibbs most recently of Sleaford, Adam Scott of Llaneilian, Anglesey and a badly injured dog named Baddy, whose body has never been found.

The RSPCA prosecution case against a vicious dog-fighting gang who tried to breed the “ultimate dog” has been heard in court. Three members of the gang didn’t even bother to show up for their hearing and were convicted in their absence.

The court heard police and RSPCA investigators found eight dogs during a raid on a premises in Sleaford, including an American bulldog, a Bully Kutta cross Presa Canario and a pitbull terrier. Some of the dogs had horrific injuries, were scarred from fighting and in poor physical health.

The searches uncovered paraphernalia commonly used by people involved in dog fighting, including a ‘flirt pole’, a long pole with a rope attached and a ‘break stick’, a tool commonly used to break up a dog fight.

Video evidence obtained by the RSPCA and produced in court.

Serial dog fighter John Herbert Knibbs (who also uses the surname Donaghy), who was already banned for life from keeping animals, was the ringleader of the gang. His latest cruelty relates to when he was living in Sleaford with Kimberleigh Joanne Steele, but he has also stayed at addresses in Grantham, Barnsley, Stamford and Halifax.

Knibbs was convicted in his absence on charges which included keeping and training dogs for fighting, ear cropping and causing unnecessary suffering to a bull terrier called Baddy and another called Panther by failing to provide veterinary care for their injuries.

Distressing footage found on Knibbs’ mobile phone showed dogs being forced to fight for up to 45 minutes and being trained on treadmills. One video showed a dog tied to a treadmill and forced to run – a common training technique used to build up strength for fighting dogs.

Text messages exchanged between ring members indicated that one fight lasted 45 minutes and had ended when a terrified Presa Canario jumped out of a window to escape pitbull terrier Baddy as the latter dog went in for the kill.

Pitbull Baddy suffered horrific injuries after being forced to fight. He is believed to be dead but his body has never been found.
Pitbull Baddy suffered horrific injuries after being forced to fight. He is believed to be dead but his body has never been found.

Another text made reference to one dog being able to crush another’s bones with one bite.

Knibbs was first prosecuted for dog fighting by the RSPCA in 2009 when he was disqualified from keeping animals for life. He was then convicted of breaching his ban in 2016 ahead of the raid in Sleaford in September 2017.

Though his current whereabouts are unconfirmed, Knibbs is rumoured to have fled to Southern Ireland.

Knibbs’ partner Kimberleigh Joanne Steele was also convicted in absence for aiding and abetting him in evading his ban.

Messages and photos on Knibbs’ phone led investigators to two other addresses: Stephen Gardner’s home in Willows End, Bloxholm, and a luxury property with its own swimming pool in Anglesey, Wales, where backyard breeder of Presa Canarios Adam Scott resides with partner, Rachel Pearce (she was also originally charged but claims to have been acquitted). A badly scarred dog named Panther was found at Scott’s address.

Dog fighter Adam Scott of Aber Eilian Bach, Llaneilian, Amlwch, Anglesey
Adam Scott makes a lucrative living from his serial animal cruelty

Scott was convicted for having in his possession two pitbull terrier-type dogs contrary to Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, as well as aiding and abetting a disqualification order for Knibbs.

Dog fighter Adam Scott with partner Rachel Pearce, who although initially charged has not yet been convicted of any offence.
Adam Scott with partner Rachel Pearce, who although initially charged was not convicted of any offence.

RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall, from the charity’s Special Operations Unit who investigated, said: “Some of these dogs had been trained to fight and some of them had been left suffering with horrible injuries from fighting.

“Although we never found the body of Baddy, the pictures and subsequent text messages about the fight revealed that there were severe puncture wounds to his head and the enforced fight between Baddy and a much larger Presa Canario was gruelling, lasting a total of 45 minutes.

“The videos also showed further evidence of this cruel and barbaric practice and the suffering of these dogs would have been horrendous.”

Insp Withnall added: “This was an organisation involved in keeping and breeding of dogs for fighting, owned and run by Mr Knibbs, a convicted dog fighter who had changed his name to John Donaghy to try and remain undetected.

“The court heard that this group were set on breeding a very large dog, possibly for fighting which they referred to as the ‘ultimate dog’.”

Adam Scott: ordered to pay £3,000 in costs plus £80 victim surcharge; 100 hours of unpaid community work.

A warrant is out for the arrest of Stephen John Gardner, who failed to attend court.

Lincolnshire Reporter
Daily Post
The Independent
BBC News