West End, Southampton: Michael Edward Levy

#TheList Michael Edward Levy, born 08/05/1988, formerly of 22 The Drive, West End, Southampton SO30 3AN, but gave his address in court as 35 Metherell Avenue, Brixham, Devon TQ5 9QB – left horses in a field without clean water and shelter

Pictured is convicted animal abuser Mike Levy from Southampton
Convicted animal abuser Mike Levy is only banned from keeping equines for six months

Gypsy Michael Levy, who runs a company called Forest Falconry and Pest Control Ltd and has a previous conviction for fly-tipping, was found guilty of failing to ensure the needs of animals he was responsible for.

The father-of-five was also found guilty of transporting a pony in a way that was likely to cause injury.

The court heard that RSPCA inspectors were called by the police after Levy allowed his ponies to fly-graze on land at Botley Road, West End, Southampton.

The land, which was littered with several hazards, did not have clean water, shade or shelter.

The fencing was also deemed inappropriate fencing for horses, which resulted in one horse getting trapped and losing a shoe.

RSPCA Inspector Tina Ward described the scene.

“A metal gate between two paddocks was hanging off its hinges,” said Inspector Ward. “The paddock also had a hidden dangerous hazard; a cesspit covered by grass and rubble.

“There was rusting metal and car parts as well as partly buried plastic blue piping. All of these had the potential to cause serious harm and injury.”

Pictured is convicted animal abuser Mike Levy from Southampton
Levy runs his own ‘pest control’ company

Police body-camera footage recorded a Shetland pony being unloaded by Levy from a white van.

Inspector Ward said the pony “had been travelling with a rope headcollar on that was loose. There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body, which is particularly important.”

She said: “If the pony was to lose its balance when the vehicle went round a corner or stopped suddenly, he could have injured himself significantly.”

Inspector Ward added where the pony had been standing was a number of items including a tin of paint and metal ladders.

“These also had the potential to cause the pony serious injury had he had fallen over. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress,” she said.

Inspector Ward concluded: “There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress.”

Sentencing: Levy was ordered to pay a total of £1,233. He was banned from keeping equines for six months.

Horse and Hound
Daily Echo

New Barn, Longfield, Kent: John and William Cook

#TheList John Benjamin Cook, born 13/11/1993, and his brother William Cook, born 11/07/1989, both of Little Acres, Longfield Avenue, New Barn, Longfield, Dartford DA3 7LA – ran a puppy farm and a cock-fighting ring

William 'Billy' Cook (left) and brother John Cook
Dogs and puppies were kept in deplorable conditions at a puppy farm operated by William Cook (left) and his brother John. The pair also hosted cruel cock-fights for other gypsies.

Gypsy travellers John and William Cook were convicted of a number of animal welfare offences.

In July 2018 RSPCA officers executed a warrant at the sprawling property in New Barn the brothers share with their extended family, including wives, children and parents, after a member of the public who had bought puppies from them raised concerns.

Deplorable conditions at the puppy farm operated by  gypsy brothers William and John Cook from New Barn, Longfield, Kent
Deplorable conditions at the puppy farm operated by gypsy brothers William and John Cook from New Barn, Longfield, Kent

In total, 18 dogs, including spaniels and beagles were removed along with two cockerels.

Officers also seized a number of mobile phones from the site and a suspecting cock-fighting pit was uncovered. Analysis of the mobiles showed the brothers were involved with fighting and later forensics tests found the blood of at least four cockerels on the pit.

Deplorable conditions at the puppy farm operated by  gypsy brothers William and John Cook from New Barn, Longfield, Kent

During the four-day trial the court heard how John Cook was accused of causing suffering to a number of dogs, failing to provide them with vet care for stomach and teeth problems and keeping them in unsuitable conditions.

Animal abuser William Cook from Longfield, Kent
William Cook, who is now banned from keeping all animals for three years. His equally twisted brother is only banned from keeping dogs.

William Cook was accused of a number of offences relating to cockerel fighting.

John Cook pleaded guilty to the offences, while William Cook was convicted of the offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

Animal abuser William Cook from Longfield, Kent

RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport, from the charity’s special operations unit, said: “Many of the dogs being kept at the site had health and welfare problems, including untreated gastrointestinal and dental issues.

William Cook is a leading member of a cock-fighting ring. Here, he is pictured with brother-in-law, Owen Lee
William Cook is a leading member of a cock-fighting ring. Here, he is pictured with brother-in-law, Owen Lee

“We also had serious concerns over the conditions they were being kept in. The dogs and puppies were being kept in dirty, wet conditions with no bedding.”

Sentencing:
William Cook – 120-day prison term – suspended for two years. Ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. Disqualified from keeping any animals for three years.

John Cook – 90 days in prison – also suspended for two years; 160 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.

Both men were ordered to pay £1,000 in costs plus a £115 victim surcharge.

Kent Online

Heysham, Morecambe, Lancashire: Daniel Brockhill

#TheList Daniel Brockhill, born 21/02/1968, of 16 Robin Crescent, Heysham LA3 2WG – for cruelty to two ponies

Daniel Brockhill from Heysham and one of the two horses he neglected
One of Daniel Brockhill’s neglected horses was underweight, depressed and riddled with lice

Brockhill, a Romany gypsy and alleged backyard breeder of diseased Staffordshire bull terriers, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to two ponies

The first animal, a dark brown cob mare, was left with a ‘stinking open wound’ caused by the tight bridle rubbing her, as well as a small cut to her nose, and areas of fur missing on the face.

The second animal, a black and white piebald cob mare, was spotted wandering in the field “aimlessly” in a dull and depressed state.

The weak and malnourished pony was not very responsive and had an elevated heartbeat and temperature. She was riddled with lice and eggs that had been present for at least 10 days, and had fecal staining on her hind legs indicating serious diarrhea.

The court was told Brockhill had only bought this pony three weeks earlier.

Prosecuting, Paul Ridehalgh told the court that a worker from World Horse Welfare had attended a field in the Twemlow Parade area of Heysham where 13 horses were kept. Most were in good body condition, but one had a bridle that was “clearly too tight” around her nose.

Mr Ridehalgh described how the worker went to loosen the bridle and discovered “a red raw open wound” under the pony’s chin. The collar had become embedded within the hair and skin and a bad smell was emanating from the wound.

The charity worker alerted the RSPCA, and when another inspector attended they became concerned about the other horse who looked too thin.

Mr Ridehalgh added: “It was displaying extremely worrying behaviour and clearly was extremely unwell.

A veterinary surgeon who examined the animals concluded both had been caused suffering by Brockhill’s failure to act.

Despite her painful injury, the first horse was bright, alert and responsive But the second was scored just one out of five on her body condition – zero being emaciated.

Brockhill agreed to sign over both horses to the RSPCA.

The thin horse gained 8kg in the four weeks she boarded with the charity

Horse abuser Daniel Brockhill

During an interview, Brockhill admitted he owned both ponies but claimed he had only owned the malnourished one for three weeks.

He said he had when he arranged transport to a field in Skipton the horse was weak and could barely walk, and that he was “appalled” by her condition.

When it was pointed out that she should have been referred to a vet, Brockhill said he was experienced in keeping horses and it was his opinion the horse just needed a ‘good feed’.

The court heard Brockhill had a conviction for animal cruelty from 2002, but of dissimilar nature.

District Judge Paul Clarke said there had been a “high level of suffering”, but recognised Brockhill had co-operated with the RSPCA.

He remarked it wasn’t “deliberate cruelty”, adding: “It comes down to competence and horse husbandry.”

Sentencing: curfew; a total of £690 costs and charges. No ban.

The Visitor

Penicuik, Midlothian: William Brown

#TheList farmer William Martin Brown, born 16/01/1961, of Herbertshaw Farm, Howgate, near Penicuik EH26 8QA – filmed by undercover officer punching and kicking sheep

Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep
Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep

William Brown was filmed violently abusing two male sheep by a PETA officer posing undercover as a farmworker.

In the footage, Brown can also be heard shouting “Come on ya fucking cunt” and fucking bastards” at the frightened animals.

Brown pleaded guilty to causing the protected animals unnecessary suffering by repeatedly punching and kicking them and was fined. He was not banned from owning or working with animals

Still from the undercover video footage showing Penicuik farmer William Brown abusing sheep

The Scottish SPCA said it was pleased Brown admitted the offence, but was disappointed that no ban was imposed on him by the court.

Scottish SPCA chief inspector John Chisholm said: “This is a serious case of animal cruelty by an experienced farmer. He will be fully aware that sheep experience fear and can perceive humans as a threat.

“Violently lashing out at the sheep will spread fear amongst the rest of the flock.

“We would expect anyone involved in the rearing of livestock for commercial purposes to have the highest standards of welfare and treatment.

“We are disappointed that Brown wasn’t banned from owning or working with animals but we hope this will serve as a warning that this behaviour is unacceptable and we will fully investigate any reports of cruelty towards livestock.

“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss welfare practice with the wider industry.”

Sentencing: fined £550

STV News
Daily Record

Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire: Perparim Tahiraj

#TheList Perparim Tahiraj, born 21/09/1970, of 36 Williamson Drive, Helensburgh G84 87LH – failed to get veterinary treatment for his five horses and left them to fly-graze

Kosovan national Perparim Tahiraj is banned from keeping equines for five years after starving and neglecting five horses and leaving them to fly-graze
Kosovan national Perparim Tahiraj is banned from keeping equines for five years after starving and neglecting five horses and leaving them to fly-graze

Perparim Tahiraj, who is originally from Kosovo, told Scottish SPCA inspectors he would not feed or care for horses Al, Africa, Cinderella, Song, and Tia, but refused to sign them over

One of the five horses neglected by Kosovan national Perparim Tahiraj of Helensburgh, Scotland

Tahiraj, who has previously been convicted of domestic violence let the horses roam on land he did not have permission to use. The muddy ground in Helensburgh was unsuitable for grazing, with no shelter from the elements, and the horses became emaciated.

One of the five horses neglected by Kosovan national Perparim Tahiraj of Helensburgh, Scotland

For a year the horses were left to try to fend for themselves on land which was littered with broken fencing and poisonous rhododendron bushes.

Shockingly, on Christmas Eve 2018, Tahiraj announced to inspectors from the Scottish SPCA that he would not feed or care for his horses. But he also refused to hand them over into their care.

Tahiraj was found guilty under Section 24 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 for failing to provide a suitable environment, adequate diet and protection from suffering, injury and disease.

He was banned from keeping horses for five years.

Further sentencing was deferred for six months, meaning if he stays out of trouble for that period of time, he will likely face no further punishment.

Following the sheriff’s verdict, it was disclosed that Tahiraj, who is unemployed, is already using some of his benefits to pay back outstanding fines.

He also claimed he was unable to work due to various alleged health complications, including depression, anxiety, and arthritis, which meant he would be unable to complete a community payback order of unpaid work.

One of the five horses neglected by Kosovan national Perparim Tahiraj of Helensburgh, Scotland

Scottish SPCA inspector Gillian Dick said: “We are pleased Tahiraj has been handed a ban for this level of neglect.

“Tahiraj is well known to the Scottish SPCA, we have had countless dealings with him and removed animals from his care a number of times.

“We tried on several occasions to provide him with guidance and advice on how to care for his animals.

“Tahiraj did not have permission to graze his horses on the land and had effectively been fly grazing within the field and surrounding grass area since January 2018.

“On 24 December 2018 he stated he would no longer attend to his horses or provide feed for them.

“We then asked him to sign the horses over in to our care, which he refused to do. “When we attended horses we discovered them all to be underweight and in poor body condition.

“Four of the five horses were suffering from skin infections, which needed veterinary treatment.

“The field offered inadequate grazing for equine animals and conditions were muddy, with little appropriate shelter from adverse weather conditions.

“The horses were exposed to poisonous rhododendron bushes and discarded fencing material.

“In one corner of the field the fence was broken and taped up, which was not suitable to contain the horses from the nearby busy road. We welcome this sentence. Tahiraj was not capable of meeting the most basic of needs for the horses in his care.

“We hope this sentence makes Tahiraj consider his ability to look after any animal in the future.”

Sentencing: banned from keeping any equine animals for a period of five years.

Helensburgh Advertiser
Daily Record

Leeds, West Yorkshire: Victoria Brooksbank and Richard Marnick

#TheList Victoria Catherine Brooksbank, born c. 1977, of 42 Severn Drive, Garforth Leeds LS25 2BB and Richard Marnick, born 19/06/1995, of The Marsh, 70 Uppermoor, Pudsey LS28 7EX – allowed a horse to “deteriorate” and suffer

Horse abusers Richard Marnick and Victoria Catherine Brooksbank from Leeds

The court heard that Marnick had been loaned a thoroughbred gelding called Archie and he paid Brooksbank, who is an experienced trainer trading under the name VB Equestrian, £80 a week to look after him at her stables in Garforth.

Archie appeared to be healthy when he arrived at the stables and Marnick paid for the full livery package, that included hay and hard feed, but after 18 months the horse was found to have deteriorated and had lost a lot of weight.

In July 2019, Archie’s original owner saw a photograph of him on social media and arranged for him to be examined by a vet.

Archie was very thin and given a body condition score of one out of five, meaning he was emaciated. The RSPCA then decided to prosecute Marnick and Brooksbank.

The court heard there had been “inadequate nutrition” and the suffering may have gone on “for weeks, possibly months”.

Archie was very thin and was given a body condition score of one out of five, meaning it was poor.

Marnick, who pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing, told the court he usually checked in on Archie once a week, but was preoccupied as he was working six days a week as a courier.

He said: “I pleaded guilty because I should have done something about it sooner. I should have removed Archie (from Brooksbank) a lot sooner than I did.”

He also said he had been speaking to a nutritionist and trying to figure how to help Archie, but the horse was taken away before he had the opportunity to help.

Horse abuser Richard Marnick from Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

A probation worker, who interviewed Brooksbank, said: “She believed the horse belonged to Mr Marnick and continuously contacted him, saying he needed more exercise, hard feed and for a nutritionist to look at the horse.”

The probation worker also said that Brooksbank “wishes she had been more forceful” with Marnick and convinced him to contact a nutritionist sooner.

Horse abuser Victoria Catherine Brooksbank from Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

The court that Brooksbank, who denied the offence but was convicted at an earlier hearing, has taken good care of the other horses in her stable for years and this case was “an anomaly”.
‘There was no desire to neglect the horse’

Presiding justice Richard Powell said: “This was unintentional.
“There was no desire to neglect the horse but I think I need to make a point now – there is only one victim in this whole affair and that’s the horse called Archie, who has been neglected.”

Addressing Marnick, he said: “You were the owner of the horse and you had taken your eye off the ball.

“You were busy with your job and you did not give enough attention to the horse.”

Mr Powell said Brooksbank had “no intention to harm the horse” but was an experienced professional who should have taken better care of the animal.

He added: “We find you more culpable, because you had day to day concern with the horse and watched it deteriorate.”

Marnick was fined a total of £532 and £300 of that money will be sent to the RSPCA.

Brooksbank was fined a total of £982 of which £750 will be sent to the RSPCA.

Neither was disqualified from owning animals.

LeedsLive

Cranage, Cheshire: Ian McGrath

#TheList Ian Gordon McGrath, born 03/01/1975, of The Paddocks, Sandy Lane, Cranage, near Holmes Chapel, Crewe CW6 8HR – left 35 cow carcasses to decay at his dairy farm, left six other cows in such poor condition they had to be put down

Cheshire dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot
Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot

McGrath admitted causing unnecessary suffering after a 2018 inspection of Grange Farm, Over Peover, Knutsford, by Cheshire East Council found some animals had no access to food or water.

Attempts had also been made to cover some of the 35 dead carcasses at the farm, which is now run by people who have no connection to this case.

The court heard the dairy farmer McGrath had suffered mental health problems since his father died in 2014.

Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot

Rachel Cooper, prosecuting, said that an experienced dairy farmer like McGrath must have known his actions were causing suffering to his animals.

But Adrian Roberts, defending, said McGrath had suffered with mental health problems since his father died in 2014.

He was also under financial pressure because of bovine tuberculosis in his herd and the falling price of milk.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders described the case as “appalling” and sentenced McGrath, who also admitted failing to dispose of dead cattle properly, to 18 weeks in jail which was suspended for 18 months.

He also banned McGrath from owning or keeping livestock for life but this can be reviewed in five years.

McGrath must also pay more than £17,000 in fines and costs, and carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

BBC News

Additional info: until June 2018 Ian McGrath was a director of badger cull company Environment Clear Ltd.

Dairy farmer Ian McGrath neglected cattle and left the bodies of those that died to rot.
McGrath is caught on camera by badger welfare campaigners setting a cage trap near an active badger sett

In 2017 McGrath, who is also said to be a keen bloodsports enthusiast and supporter of the Cheshire Hunt, was caught on camera setting a cage trap near an active badger sett.

McGrath is said to be an expert on the spread of bovine tuberculosis and was a member of DEFRA’s ‘eradication’ team.

In 2015 he featured on a video released by the National Farmers Union on the subject of bovine TB.

More information on the companies involved in the UK badger cull can be found on the Innocent Badger website.

Galashiels, Scottish Borders: Charlotte Roberts

#TheList Charlotte Amy Roberts, born 03/03/1991, of 274 Beech Avenue, Galashiels TD1 2LG – neglected a lizard to the extent it almost died

Pet peddlers Charlotte Roberts and Vickie Hay. Roberts was prosecuted for neglecting a lizard in her care
Charlotte Roberts (left) with wife Vickie Hay

Roberts, who together with wife Vickie Roberts (née Hay) is a notorious pet peddler with a history of allegedly selling on poorly kittens riddled with parasites, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the pet.

Reptile neglected by Charlotte Roberts from Galashiels, Scottish Borders

Animal welfare officers said the Bosc monitor lizard was close to death when they raided the flat following the tip-off.

In addition to the lizard they found 13 cats, two dogs and a rabbit.

Roberts avoided a ban from owning all animals and has signed over her dogs and cats to the Scottish SPCA.

But there are are still two dogs, five cats and a fish living in the property as they are in the ownership of her 23-year-old wife Vickie Roberts.

Vickie Roberts’ not guilty plea to causing unnecessary suffering to the lizard was accepted by the Crown.

Facebook warning about poorly kittens being sold on Facebook by Charlotte Roberts and Vickie Hay

The court heard was told how a complaint was made to the Scottish SPCA about animal neglect at the property.

Charlotte Roberts' sells kittens on Facebook

Charlotte Roberts admitted the lizard was in a “very bad” condition.

The court heard how it was motionless and in a state of collapse and had no access to water. The water dish was dry and was full of wood shavings.

Officers immediately removed the lizard for veterinary attention and it was found to be very weak and emaciated.

Its weight was 1.68 kilogrammes when it should be a healthy weight of between 2.5 and three kilogrammes.

The lizard had seven days of treatment which proved to be successful as the lizard was “fed back to life”. It has now been signed over to the Scottish SPCA.

Vickie Hay sells kittens on Facebook

The Crown had originally called for a ban on Charlotte Roberts owning all animals.

But after consulting the Scottish SPCA – who told them Roberts had been engaging well with them and also Lothian Cat Rescue – the motion was restricted to reptiles.

Depute fiscal Anna Robertson told the latest hearing the Scottish SPCA had spoken highly of Roberts’ attitude and that she had understood their stance over the lizard.

Ms Robertson said that as a result Charlotte Roberts had signed over her cats and one dog to the Scottish SPCA but said there were still animals in the Beech Avenue flat that had not been signed over as they belonged to Vickie Roberts.

Vickie Hay sells puppies on Facebook

She said there were still concerns as all the animals in the house had to be treated for fleas, the landlords Waverley Housing had a policy on the number of pets in their property and all vets in the area had indicated there were outstanding bills to be paid.

The fiscal added that it was understood there was a Go Fund Me page for a dog which had an ear infection.

Defence lawyer Colin Severin said that there were now two dogs, five cats and a fish in the property but added: “All remaining animals are in the ownership of her partner.”

Vickie Hay trawls Facebook looking for animals to sell on
Charlotte Roberts and Vickie Hay have been trawling Facebook for animals to buy and sell on for years. This post was from 2015.

As regards Charlotte Roberts he said, ‘she had taken on more than she could handle’, and there had been no malice involved.

He said a ban on keeping all animals would not be appropriate.

Sheriff Peter Paterson fined Charlotte Roberts £200 for causing unnecessary suffering to the lizard and banned her from keeping reptiles for two years.

But after hearing Charlotte Roberts has a joint Employment Support Allowance of £275 per fortnight with her partner, the sheriff said he found it “difficult to comprehend” how they could afford to keep the amount of cats and dogs they have.

Sentencing: fined £200. Banned from keeping reptiles for two years.

Border Telegraph

Cardonald, Glasgow: Kevin Maguire

#TheList notorious sectarian thug Kevin ‘Magwa’ Maguire, born 12/06/1982, of Muirdrum Avenue, Cardonald, Glasgow G52 3AP – punched three police horses during a football riot

Notorious sectarian thug Kevin Maguire attacked three police horses during a football riot
Notorious sectarian thug Kevin Maguire attacked three police horses during a pre-match riot

Celtic fan Kevin Maguire, who owns Casey’s Cafe in Elderpark Street, Govan, Glasgow, was part of a mob that attacked police officers and their horses ahead of a Scottish Cup tie against Airdrie.

The father-of-four, who goes by the nickname ‘Magwa’ and has previous convictions for football-related violence, claimed during his trial that he was an innocent bystander.

Police horse Oban was punched by football hooligan Kevin Maguire
Police horse Oban was punched by football hooligan Kevin Maguire

But Sheriff John McCormick told him: “You were in fact one of the ringleaders of this mob.”

Police officer Sergeant Mark Stewart attended the match and he described the violence as the “worst riot” he had ever seen.

“When I got there, Airdrie fans were being blocked from getting into the ground by Celtic fans,” he said.

“There were families trying to get in and bricks and missiles getting flung as well as spitting and throwing lit cigarettes.

“It was very aggressive and this was the worst riot I had ever seen.”

Notorious football hooligan and sectarian thug Kevin Maguire
Maguire’s lawyer pleaded with the court not to jail his client due to his family responsibilities but that argument cut no ice with Sheriff John McCormick who sent him straight to prison

The officer told the court that Maguire was “directing others” during the violent incident and said he saw him attack the three police horses outside the ground.

He added: “I asked him to move and he punched my horse Oban on the muzzle which caused him to react.

“It was a full-blown punch and he also punched police horse Glasgow on the face.”

Police horse Nerston was punched by football hooligan Kevin Maguire
Nerston was also attacked by Maguire

Sgt Stewart said another police horse Nerston was also punched later on.

Maguire was described as a “prime mover” in the violence orchestrated against police.

Lawyer Michael McKeown, representing Maguire, unsuccessfully urged the sheriff not to jail his client.

Mr McKeown said: “He has got significant family responsibility. He is looking after his young baby and three other children.

“He works as an engineer and earns £600 a week. That employment is still open to him. He also has a business interest in a cafe.”

The court heard that Maguire told social workers who compiled a report on him that he was on ‘an alcohol binge and had no memory of the offence.

Notorious football hooligan and sectarian thug Kevin Maguire

The court had heard that Maguire was previously banned from every football ground in the UK.

He was also out on bail at the time of the police horse attack in January 2019.

Maguire was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to police horses Nerston, Oban and Glasgow, assaulting two police officers and acting in a threatening and abusive manner.

Sentencing: 10 months in prison. Banned from every football ground in the UK for a further five years.

Daily Record
BBC News

Windy Nook, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear: Amy Rutherford

#TheList Amy Rutherford, born 12/01/1997, of Coltsfoot Gardens, Gateshead NE10 9RE – locked her two cats in her squalid home while she went to live with her boyfriend

Amy Rutherford, who was banned from keeping animals indefinitely after abandoning two cats in a freezing property for six weeks
Amy Rutherford was banned from keeping animals indefinitely after abandoning two cats in a freezing property for six weeks

Cats Lucy and Lola almost starved to death after their owner, Amy Rutherford, abandoned them in a dark and freezing property for six weeks.

In court, she pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal.

Abandoned cat Lucy was so thin her collar had slipped from her neck onto her hips
Abandoned cat Lucy was so thin her collar had slipped from her neck onto her hips

The court heard that the RSPCA were contacted in early September 2019 after members of the public reported seeing the “distressed” cats jumping up at the windows of Rutherford’s home.

An officer attended and left an RSPCA card, as well as putting sellotape around the hinges of the front door.

The investigator returned a number of times over the following days and saw that the tape was still intact, meaning nobody had entered or left the property.

Eventually, the police gained access on September 20.

Stewart Haywood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “The conditions inside were appalling. There was a strong smell of urine and faeces and it was dark and cold.

“The light switches were not working and the rooms were covered in rubbish.”

The court heard that bin bags had been scratched at by the cats and there was no food or water in their bowls.

The prosecutor added: “The officer found Lucy. She was opening her mouth repeatedly but no sound was coming out. Her pink collar was wrapped around her hips rather than her neck.

“Her bones could be felt and her eyes were sunk.”

Lucy collapsed when she was put in a basket to the point officers thought she had died.

Lola, who was abandoned by her heartless owner Amy Rutherford
Lola, who was abandoned by her heartless owner Amy Rutherford

Lola, who was in a slightly better condition, was also seized and taken to a vets, where both were discovered to be emaciated and Lucy to be suffering from hypothermia.

When interviewed, Rutherford claimed she’d only ever left the pets for a couple of days and hadn’t replied to the RSPCA card because she’d been too busy with work.

John Williams, defending, said Rutherford was drinking too much at the time and suffered from secondary bipolar disorder and depression.

He added: “There’s no excuse and she accepts that. She abandoned the cats for about six weeks. She went to stay with her boyfriend as her mental health was deteriorating. She was a manager in a shop but she had to give that up as she could no longer carry on.”

District Judge Kate Meek said: “You had to move out of the house because it was uncomfortable for you because it was cold and dark, but, it’s alright for them [the cats] to suffer and not you?

“They, like any other pet animal, rely completely on you for their care and attention. When you take ownership of them, it’s effectively an agreement that you’re going to look after them.

“They’re technically no more able to do so themselves than a small, young child.”

The judge added: “I have looked at the pictures and they are quite distressing, as it is distressing to hear the particulars.

“It’s absolutely clear that this was over a prolonged period of time and both cats suffered a high degree of harm because of your lack of care and attention that you must be expected to provide any animal in your care.

“There is no justification or explanation for it.”

Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 250 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping pets indefinitely.

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