#TheList equine sanctuary owner Ann Michelle Sim, born 26/08/1984, of Shearford Close, Barnstaple EX31 1AG – neglected and starved multiple horses in her care
Mother-of-three Ann Sim, who ran North Devon Equine Rescue in Rumsam, near Barnstaple, was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping horses for 10 years after admitting three cruelty charges.
The RSPCA visited Sim’s so-called sanctuary and found horses so thin their spines and ribs could be seen through the skin.
Conditions were described as ‘chaotic’ with animals living in foul conditions among rubbish and with sparse and inadequate bedding.
Ponies and horses had overgrown feet and one had to have his eye removed because an infection had not been treated by a vet.
The court heard Sim had set up the centre with the best of intentions five years earlier but had struggled to cope when her personal life fell apart.
Prosecutor Kevin Withy said Sim had been on the radar of the RSPCA for some time before the offences were committed between June and September 2019.
In one of the foul stables inspectors discovered a mare and foal whose ribs and spine were visible due to lack of food. Conditions were filthy with little clean bedding and only ‘a limited amount of water’.
The animals had been suffering for a number of months and there was no control of parasites.
The chestnut mare, Bumble, also had severely overgrown feet and Sim had not called a vet. A Welsh gelding called Tiggy had an infected eye that needed to be removed and a pony, Punchy, was emaciated, anaemic and had overgrown feet.
Defence barrister Herc Ashworth said the 35-year-old set up the rescue centre to “help abandoned horses back to health” and had “no intention of causing suffering”.
“I accept it was not a deliberate act on your behalf,” the judge added.
All the animals have since been rehomed.
Sentencing: 10-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. Ordered to pay £322 costs. Banned from keeping equines for 10 years.
#TheList for multiple cruelty charges Jodie Annabel Fairbrother (aka Jodie Lewis), born 30/09/1978, and husband Paul Jack Fairbrother, born 10/07/1969, formerly of Immingham, Lincolnshire, but now said to be living in Nar Fokak, Cyprus, with daughter Libby-Jo Fairbrother who was also initially charged.
Mother-of-four Jodie Fairbrother, whose last known UK address was Aberdovey Drive, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees TS16 9EZ admitted 10 offences of animal cruelty at 4Paws veterinary clinic – six which related to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Her husband, Paul Fairbrother, admitted three offences of animal cruelty, including one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a British bulldog and two charges relating to animal welfare.
The charges were brought by the RSPCA after it conducted one of its largest raids in March 2018 at 4Paws in Killingholme, North Lincolnshire.
More than 60 staff from multiple agencies worked throughout the day to remove 160 animals.
4Paws, which imported 4,600 dogs from overseas over a 15-month period, operated an unlicensed boarding kennels and veterinary clinic after their licence expired.
The animals were found in “abhorrent” conditions.
Some animals were left unattended in baskets and cages for up to 95 hours. Many were kept in cramped kennels with no access to food or water.
They also had untreated health conditions such as respiratory problems or ear infections and untreated wounds.
The body of a deceased dog was found at the clinic and it was later discovered the dog had distemper, a lethal viral disease.
One dog was kept in a cage for four days without food and water and then ‘euthanised’ by Fairbrother, who had no veterinary qualifications.
Three dogs had to be put to sleep and two had Brucella canisa, a serious contagious disease that can be passed onto humans. Another tested positive for distemper.
A total of 144 dogs and 16 cats were then taken in by the RSPCA and Dogs Trust.
Other charges against the Fairbrothers were dropped at an earlier hearing and all 17 charges were dropped against daughter Libby-Jo Fairbrother.
The volunteer also said that the animals had been “living in their own filth” as the kennels were never cleaned properly, and the animals were never looked after, with around 80 new dogs arriving at the kennel every week.
They said: “I used to help out at the clinic and some of the things that I have seen were just disgusting.
“There were 10 to 15 dogs all into one pen, and just roaming about. There was not one bed for a dog.
“Thursday is delivery day, when they get usually around three vans full of dogs from Romania brought to the site. But the most horrible thing is to see them left outside the clinic, sometimes for over a day, just sitting in those vans howling.
“The animals are always getting out and running loose about the place.”
Other local residents hit out at the treatment of horses at the centre, saying they had been left in a field during the heat of the summer without food or water. Residents said they had intervened to feed the animals themselves claiming that clinic staff had informed them they were “too busy”.
Numerous other residents alleged that after speaking out about the conditions at 4Paws, they received threats.
Sentencing: Jodie Fairbrother – jailed for 18 weeks, suspended for 12 months. Paul Fairbrother – jailed for 12 weeks, suspended for 12 months. Both were ordered to pay £500 costs and a £115 victim surcharge each. Both were banned from keeping or trading in animals for five years.
#TheList Annette Nally, born 18/03/1969, of Pryor Road, Oldbury B68 9QJ – kept rescued horses in filthy ‘death camps’
In a case brought by the RSPCA, Annette Nally was found guilty on four charges, three of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to take reasonable steps to care for an animal. The charges related to eight horses found at a yard off Astwood Lane in Stoke Prior, Worcestershire on July 14, 2018, and others at another yard in Solihull.
Nally had worked with charities and organisations to provide homes for neglected and retired thoroughbreds.
Inspectors found one dead horse and 12 emaciated animals in Stoke Prior. Two of the emaciated horses were later put down.
The RSPCA later visited two other sites in Nally’s control in Lapworth, Warwickshire, and Old Green Lane, Solihull. Seven more horses were found there in a poor condition.
District Judge Ian Strongman told the court how a mare called Ruby and her foal Rebecca were found in a barn by concerned members of the public.
He said: “The floor was made up of urine and faeces, it was a filthy stinking mess.
“In the stable next door a stallion Rocky, who a year before was a fine stallion in prime condition, was in the same situation, skin and bone, living in absolute filth.”
The court was told Ruby, who was starving to death, was put down 24 hours after being found at Stoke Prior and Rebecca had survived because she had still been feeding from her mother.
The shocking evidence included post mortem reports showing animals starved to death. In one case string was found in a gelding’s small intestine which the judge concluded may have been eaten in desperation.
The animal was found dead in a barn at Stoke Prior and the court heard marks in filth on the floor by its head indicated it had thrashed as it struggled to get to its feet during its final hours.
The judge told Nally: “You saw animals deteriorating in front of you and did nothing to stop it.”
He added that RSPCA inspectors had been so traumatised by what the had seen at the yard they were unable to continue working on the investigation.
Nally, who had denied all the charges, claimed the horses in her care had been unable to eat properly because the hot summer had cause grass in the fields not to grow.
She also denied the animals had been left without water and claimed three horses had been affected by a mystery illness which caused their faeces to become bright yellow.
The judge dismissed her explanation as “entirely bogus and untrue”.
In mitigation her solicitor, who wished only to be known as Ms Whitehead, told the court her client has debts including a £2,000 vet’s bill, now works a courier and “just about manages to survive”.
Ms Whitehead added Nally was of previous good character and described the case as a “blip”.
The judge said Nally’s reputation for caring for horses meant the public and the Retraining of Racehorses charity send animals to her in good faith and the breach of trust was an aggravating feature of the case.
#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
Wilburn self-diagnosed and self-treated Jasper using a substance made of alcohol which he applied to an open wound.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sentencing: 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.
#TheList Marlene McDonagh, born 12/07/1962, and David Moore, aged 56, from Loughdoo Road, Larne – pleaded guilty to animal cruelty involving 12 dogs, four cats and two guinea pigs
Hypocrites McDonagh and partner Moore claimed to be animal welfare campaigners. McDonagh is also well known in German Shepherd show and breeding circles.
Charges were brought against the pair following an investigation by council Animal Welfare Officers.
The officers at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council took the case under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.
Officers reported that :
A number of animals were severely matted with faeces stuck to their coats.
A number of dogs living inside the home were living in dirty conditions.
Several of the internal rooms had litter trays overflowing and with faeces also present on the floor.
The main bedroom housed seven chihuahuas and a Jack Russell terrier.
The floor was covered in puppy pads, urine and faeces.
Two guinea pigs found at the property had grossly overgrown nails.
A German Shepherd found at the property had faeces stuck to his severely matted coat and had a bilateral ear infection which was causing pain.
The German Shepherd also had proprioceptive deficits in the hind legs and remains unable to walk properly.
Five dogs and one cat had to be shaved as their coats were so matted.
McDonagh and Moore pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of the animals contrary to section 9 of the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.
A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “The Council gives a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and operates a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Officers have a number of enforcement options available to them and will try to work with those responsible for animals. However where there is unsatisfactory improvement, such as in this case significant enforcement powers are available to Council Officers to ensure matters are fully investigated and anyone who does not take appropriate care of animals will be brought before the courts.”
Speaking about the paltry sentencing of the couple, a spokesman for German Shepherd RRR which is one of the sanctuaries that took in the animals, said: “We appreciate all the hard work by the welfare officers at the council to expose this disgusting situation but we are deeply disappointed at the sentencing of McDonagh and Moore.
“We continue our call for strict controls on people who are responsible for the welfare of animals, tougher sentences for convicts, an offenders’ register so there is more of a deterrent for people who feel it is acceptable to treat animals in such an appalling manner.
“At least we can name and shame these two. We can only continue to hope for lifetime bans for people convicted of animal cruelty.”
Sentencing: Four-month custodial sentence, suspended for three years. Moore was ordered to pay costs including kennelling, veterinary and legal fees totalling £4,300.
McDonagh and Moore were both and disqualified from keeping animals for at least five years except for two dogs and a fish.
#TheList animal sanctuary owner Sara Jane Ross, born 01/02/1954, of Gardeners Cottage, Chalky Lane, Boughton-under-Blean, Faversham ME13 9SP – failed to meet the needs of horses, cats, dogs and birds in her care
Ross founded the Animal Sanctuary UK, based in Lake End Road, Dorney, Windsor, Berkshire, which was raided by the RSPCA on May 31, 2017.
The sanctuary had fallen into a state of disrepair with dilapidated, vermin-infested sheds housing animals, abandoned industrial machinery lying around and piles of litter and manure in animal enclosures.
RSPCA experts had reported horses lying or standing in their own urine or faeces on boggy paddocks that did not have enough grass. They criticised a lack of food and the presence of flies and vermin – with rats running in and out of the animals’ cages.
Seven cats and eight dogs were confined together inside a single caravan.
Vast swathes of litter were also found where the animals slept, as well as dead rats and mice strewn about. Inspectors found three adult cats confined to a cage only big enough for a kitten.
Other livestock were kept in cramped conditions while some stood as high as 6ft off the ground on rotting hay. They were suffering numerous diseases and many were kept in tiny cages which were unfit for purpose.
The judge saw further clips of the video which showed birds kept in tiny cages with small rings attached to their legs cutting into the flesh. Included also was a turkey kept in a tiny living space fit only for small birds.
Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said that the appalling conditions were found after whistleblowers reported the cruelty, abuse and lack of care.
The prosecutor said: ‘Statements from various volunteers suggest the abuse had been ongoing for some time and this abuse took place in a commercial context.
‘Volunteers were allowed to manage and run the farm who had insufficient experience or training to be running such a farm.’
‘The RSPCA had in fact discovered that she (Ross) had hidden many of the animals off-site. Many of those animals have not since re-appeared and could not be found in a second RSPCA check.’
Ross first set up the now-disbanded Horse Refuge in 1994 before opening The Animal Sanctuary UK in June 2012.
She pleaded guilty to six charges of failing to meet the needs of the animals and birds in her care.
District judge Sophie Toms told her: “Something went very badly wrong. I accept you had no intention of mistreating any animals.
“In your mind you were doing your best but your best was not good enough.”
Nigel Weller, representing Ross, said she had been the victim of a hate campaign.
He said: “Some of them are in court. They have ‘trolled’ my client over the internet running down everything she does.
“They bombarded Windsor and Maidenhead Council with thousands of complaints.”
The council subsequently withdrew from a deal to help her move to a better site in Bell Lane, Eton Wick.
Mr Weller said Ross had suffered a serious accident four months before the raid when a horse had trampled her, injuring her foot so badly that she needed four operations and had been unable to attend to the sanctuary as she would have liked to.
He said: “She has been devoted to her sanctuary since 2012. She sold her house in 2005 to devote her assets and money to looking after animals. For 38 years she has been involved in sanctuary work.”
Judge Toms said that the problems on the site clearly dated back to before Ross’ accident.
Ross’s co-defendant Hayley Poturici, born July 1992, of Frensham Walk, Farnham Common, who worked at the sanctuary, faced no further action after she accepted an official RSPCA caution.
Sentencing: ordered to do 135 hours of unpaid work and pay £750 costs. Disqualified from keeping animals for five years (later reduced to 12 months on appeal. Deprivation order issued preventing Ross’s dogs being returned to her.
#TheList Zara Brown (aka Zara Prentice or Zara Rooney), born 06/01/1988, of New Cottages, Patna, Ayr KA6 7JF – for appalling acts of cruelty and neglect towards homeless pets at her rehoming charity, Ayrshire Ark
Pet rescue owner Zara Brown failed to give dogs in her care adequate food and water and she abandoned them in a filthy derelict primary school with no lights.
Some of the animals were left to die in the building and she stored several of the carcasses in a chest freezer.
In all, authorities found 16 dead pets – 15 dogs and one cat – and many more with untreated conditions including a broken bone, arthritis, ear and paw infections, pressure sores and ulcers.
Several dogs believed to be in the care of the Ayrshire Ark remain unaccounted for to this day with Brown refusing to reveal their fates to their distraught former owners.
In August 2017 mother-of-four Brown appeared in the dock at Ayr Sheriff Court.
Depute fiscal Jason Bell told the court how a Scottish SPCA inspector discovered a scene of horror at the Ayrshire Ark shelter, including a stash of seven dogs and a cat in a freezer, some of whom were badly mutilated.
The charity visited the sanctuary, housed in a derelict schoolhouse in Patna, after receiving reports that a Presa Canario cross named Ozzy was lying dead on the floor.
Mr Bell revealed the Scottish SPCA inspector and police had to wait four hours to gain access because Brown wasn’t there and partner Gary Rooney, who part-owns the building, claimed not to have keys.
During the delay, the welfare team peered through a window and saw dead Ozzy slumped on the floor and other dogs in bad health. One very thin dog appeared to be standing in her own filth, without food or water, in a cloakroom.
The depute fiscal went on: “They could see two large bulldog-type dogs clambering over rubbish and debris — they appeared to be running freely in the corridor and in poor condition.
“They also noticed a large dog within one of the former classrooms that appeared lifeless. It was very underweight.
“They tried to rouse it by banging on the window and it appeared the dog was clearly dead.”
Brown finally appeared from the back of the former school at around 11pm and let the authorities inside.
The court heard the “overpowering” stench of faeces and urine made them gag as they made their way through the unlit building, where they stumbled across an animal in a cage.
Mr Bell said: “They noticed the bulldog-type dogs which had been viewed earlier in the corridor appeared to have been secured in a classroom before entry had been gained by the witnesses.
“They located a chest freezer and within were seven dead dog carcasses and a dead cat.”
The mercy crew searched for the lifeless dog they’d spotted through a window — but it had vanished.
Mr Bell said: “There were visible drag marks indicating it had been moved.”
Two more underweight dogs were in a classroom, while a third dog was found “weak and struggling to stand” in a toilet area, despite having access to food and water.
Mr Bell said: “They entered a further room and found a dead dog behind the door. Zara Brown stated she knew this dog as Bruce.
“The inspector formed the opinion the dogs were suffering. They had poor body condition, bones clearly visible. Their living conditions were woefully inadequate with regards to cleanliness.”
Nine dogs were signed over to the Scottish SPCA by Brown and taken to their vet in Glasgow.
They were found to be malnourished with a range of health issues. Bulldog Primo — who also had inflammation of the ears and feet — had to be put to sleep.
The court heard welfare chiefs attempted to interview Brown on December 29, 2017, but she failed to show.
Brown, who also has a conviction for VAT fraud, admitted nine charges of failing to properly feed dogs in her care or treat their health problems, leaving them suffering malnutrition, weight loss, lameness, infections and ulcers.
Defence lawyer Euan Cameron had pleaded for Brown to dodge jail for the sake of her four kids, but Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart told her: “Such is the gravity of the offences, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
After the sentencing, Scottish SPCA inspector Leanne McPake said: “This case was particularly harrowing and will stay with us for a long time.”
As at late 2018 Brown is believed to be living in Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway DG7.
Sentencing: Seven months in jail. Banned for life from keeping animals
#TheList Sean Dodds, born 01/08/1990, most recently of 24 Queens Drive
Hawick TD9 8EP and Kyle Lawrie, born ca. 1989, most recently of 5 Church Lane, Hawick TD9 8DL – for badger baiting
Dodds and Lawrie were told that any civilised human being could only wonder at the “barbaric mindset” of people who saw the “warped activity”of badger baiting as entertainment or sport.
Both pleaded guilty to digging at a badger’s sett, which carries a jail sentence of up to three years.
Dodds admitted on another occasion wilfully killing a badger with a dog – the first conviction of its kind in Scotland – while at the same time Lawrie was digging at the sett.
They watched along with others as Dodds’ pet dog fought with a badger pulled from a sett for up to 20 minutes before the animal died.
The court was told police suspected Dodds was involved in badger-baiting after he posted an image of a dog killing the protected animal on his Bebo profile and later confessed his crimes to officers.
Several homes in the town were searched and a number of dogs, some which had injuries, were seized and handed over to the Scottish SPCA.
It led to six people from Hawick being charged with badger-baiting offences, but only Dodds and Lawrie were convicted.
Sheriff Kevin Drummond commented: “It is plain that there are persons, including these two accused, who have been engaging in badger digging in the Hawick area.
“Any civilised human being listening to the account of dogs being put down the badger setts wearing locator collars to drag badgers by their teeth to the waiting spectators where the badgers were kicked, abused, set upon by dogs and killed over a period, described on one account as lasting up to 15-20 minutes, can only wonder at the barbaric mindset of such people which sees this warped activity as entertainment or sport.
“That Dodds should then consider the activity appropriate to post a photograph on an internet site of a dog grappling with a badger tells us something of Mr Dodds’ state of mind.
“Had it not been for the assistance which Dodds provided to the police and his remorse which I have accepted in this case, I would have dealt with this by imprisonment.”
Lawyers for both youths claimed they had been influenced by others involved in the activity.
After the verdict, Superintendent Mike Flynn of the SSPCA said: “They were given a sentence which is a direct alternative to jail, so that is encouraging.
“It is also pleasing they have been banned from keeping dogs for five years.”
Ian Hutchison, species protection officer with Scottish Badgers, commented: “The sheriff has sent a clear message that this kind of cruelty will not be tolerated.
“A lot of work has gone into getting these convictions and hopefully those who were engaging in this practice will now be dissuaded.”
Inspector John Scott of Lothian and Borders Police, based in Hawick, said: “One of the attractive things about living in the Borders is the countryside, so it is important it is protected from activities like this.
“Quite often these are hidden crimes, so it is a positive result.
“It was not only the cruelty to the badgers, but the dangers they were putting their own pet dogs in as well.”
Sentencing: Dodds was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service as a direct alternative to custody, with Lawrie sentenced to 160 hours. disqualified from having custody of a dog for a period of five years (expired January 2013).