#TheList Gary McDonald, born c. 1990, of 64 Mungalhead Road, Bainsford, Falkirk FK2 7JG – attacked a nesting swan in a public park
Gary McDonald pleaded guilty to a charge under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 at Falkirk Sheriff Court.
The court heard that on May 6, 2018, McDonald entered Crownest Park in Stenhousemuir and approached a group of teenagers saying, “Watch this, I’m going to snap the swan’s neck”. He also asked the group to film him.
Members of the group shouted at him to leave the swan alone as he approached the nest site and took out their phones to film his actions.
McDonald climbed down the verge on the east side of the pond, known as the Lido”, and sat next to the nest.
The swan became alarmed and stood up, stretching out its wings and neck in warning.
McDonald then grabbed the bird by the neck and held it for several seconds before it escaped by entering the pond.
The witnesses uploaded their footage to social media and a witness appeal by Police Scotland resulted in McDonald being identified.
This was the second year that the swan had nested at the side of the Lido.
Sara Shaw, head of the wildlife and environmental crime unit, said: “This was a callous act against a nesting swan.
“Wild birds are protected under our wildlife laws and those who choose to commit acts of violence against them can expect to be held to account.”
Sentencing: three-year community payback order with supervision and conduct requirements.
#TheList Nazar Hussain, born 28/02/1969, of 109 Rotherfield Road, Birmingham B26 2SH, and Mohammed Nabeel, born May 1991, of 50 Ludlow Road, Birmingham B8 3BY – for animal welfare offences at pet shop Bordesley Green Pet & Aquatics
Nazar Hussain and Mohammed Nabeel, the respective licence holder and manager of Bordesley Green Pets & Aquatics based at 149 Bordesley Green, Birmingham B9 5EP, admitted multiple animal welfare offences at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
Hussain pleaded guilty to 12 charges under the Pet Animals Act 1951, the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, while Nabeel pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The court heard how on 30 May 2018, Birmingham City Council’s animal welfare team received a complaint from the RSPCA about conditions at the licensed pet shop.
The team was unable to attend that day so an RSPCA inspector visited the premises and found a number of animal welfare concerns, including:
A cockatiel with an obvious injury to its wing, which later had to be put to sleep
Two budgerigars kept in a small, dirty cage
A female cat with mammary growths, another cat chained up in the back of the shop and a third cat kept in a small cage with no food, water, bedding or litter tray
Two large rabbits kept in a small, dirty cage with no water
The RSPCA inspector issued warning notices to manager Nabeel and instructed him to make numerous and immediate improvements, including taking the cockatiel and the cat with the growths to a vet for an examination.
A senior animal welfare officer from the council visited the shop the following day, accompanied by the RSPCA inspector, and found a number of breaches of the licence relating to cleanliness, size of accommodation for animals being too small, dirty drinking receptacles or no drinking water at all, no environmental enrichment provided and animals being housed in accommodation which did not minimise stress caused by other animals.
Hussain was subsequently advised of the failure to comply with numerous conditions attached to the licence issued to him for the premises. Hussain did not attend two interviews arranged and did not provide any comments. Nabeel was interviewed by the RSPCA officer but denied any wrongdoing.
District Judge Jan Jellema described the evidence as showing a ‘truly appalling picture of how animals were kept’ and that there was ‘scant evidence of any affection for animals’.
Councillor Phil Davis, chair of the council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “This is an absolutely appalling case where the licence holder allowed the conditions in his pet shop to deteriorate. Animals were kept in truly terrible conditions while the manager was incapable of looking after the animals and caring for their needs. In the case of the cockatiel, this lack of care resulted in it having to be put to sleep on welfare grounds.
Sentencing: 10 weeks’ imprisonment for each offence, suspended for 12 months. Total costs of £5,600 between them. They were both disqualified from having custody of any animal for a period of 10 years. Hussain was also disqualified from keeping a pet shop for 10 years.
#TheList gamekeeper Alan P Wilson, born c. 1958, of Henlaw Cottage, Longformacus, Duns TD11 3NT – killing dozens of wildlife on Longformacus Estate
Wilson admitted nine charges including killing goshawks, buzzards, badgers and an otter.
The offences were committed on the Longformacus Estate in the Borders between March 2016 and June 2017.
The court ruled Wilson was responsible for the deaths of numerous wildlife, including protected species. Investigators found animal corpses including otters, badgers, foxes, birds of prey and more when they searched Henlaw Wood in 2017.
A captive eagle owl which the Scottish SPCA suspects was being used as a live lure on birds of prey who were subsequently shot and killed was also discovered at Wilson’s residence. In 2018, Wilson was fined £400 and banned from keeping birds of prey for ten years for failing to ensure the welfare of the eagle owl.
After an investigation which involved experts from the Scottish SPCA’s special investigation unit (SIU), RSPB and Police Scotland, Wilson was found to have used techniques including illegally set snares and unlawful items such as banned pesticides and gin traps to trap and kill wildlife.
A land inspection also found ‘stink pits’, where dead animal carcasses are left to attract other wildlife. These ‘stink pits’ were surrounded by illegally set snares. Animal remains, including mammal skulls, were recovered.
investigators believe Wilson slaughtered thousands more animals.
One source claimed he was hell-bent on killing “everything that moved” except game birds on the estate that were being bred to be shot by wealthy clients.
One kill list found in Wilson’s home catalogued 1,071 dead animals – including cats, foxes, hedgehogs and stoats.
Sheriff Peter Paterson said the offences merited a jail term but he felt he was unable to impose one due to guidelines against short-term sentences.
“The sentencing options open to me at the moment do not reflect society’s views,” he added.
The court was told Wilson had pledged to no longer work as a gamekeeper and was now employed cutting trees.
Police welcomed the sentencing at Jedburgh Sheriff Court at the end of what they called a “complex inquiry” which had been a “large-scale” investigation.
“The illegal killing of birds of prey and protected species cannot, and will not, be tolerated, nor will the inhumane use of illegal traps and pesticides,” said Det Con Andy Loughlin.
An undercover Scottish SPCA investigator described it as a “despicable case of serious and systematic crimes to indiscriminately remove wildlife from an estate”.
“The sheer volume of dead wildlife discovered is truly shocking,” the investigator added.
“We will never know the total number of animals which perished due to Mr Wilson, though had it not been for the robust intervention of Police Scotland, the Scottish SPCA and our other partner agencies, many more would have suffered and perished.”
Sara Shaw, head of the Crown Office’s wildlife and environmental crime unit, said Wilson’s actions amounted to a “campaign of deliberate criminality”.
Duncan Orr-Ewing of RSPB Scotland called it an “absolutely appalling incident involving the illegal killing of a range of protected wildlife.”
Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture wildlife forensic scientist Dr Lucy Webster said the investigation had been an “excellent example” of partnership working to “bring a prolific wildlife criminal to justice”.
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, described it as “one of the worst wildlife crime incidents in recent years”.
A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said Wilson’s actions were “unacceptable” and “entirely out of step” with conduct it expected from its members.
He said Wilson’s SGA membership would be terminated immediately.
Sentencing: ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work and given a restriction of liberty order.
#TheList Steffan Lee Harris, born 17/12/93, and Barbara Ray Howell, born 21/08/93, of Gorwyn, Tenby Road, St Clears, Carmarthen SA33 4JN – kept dozens of dogs in shocking conditions at illegal puppy farm
Steffan Lee Harris and partner Barbara Ray Howell pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences, running a dog breeding business without a licence, and consumer offences relating to the advertising of dogs online.
Animal inspectors found starving and sick dogs being held in sheds and barns at premises operated by the couple who sold puppies online while pretending to be private sellers.
Paul Hobson, prosecuting, told the court how the couple advertised on a website called, ironically, he said, preloved.co.uk.
One buyer paid £225 for a puppy from a caravan the pair rented at Waun Dwni farm, Tanygroes. The animal became ill before the buyer got back home to Cardiff and they ended up paying £700 in vet’s bills.
Mr Hobson said the puppy had not been microchipped, vaccinated or treated for fleas as the couple had claimed in their advertisement.
A major investigation followed, first by Ceredigion County Council and then by the RSPCA.
Inspectors found 82 dogs being kept in poor conditions – 49 breeding females, 12 males and 21 puppies ready for sale.
Many of the dogs were kept in small enclosures with little light or access to fresh air with poor or muddy bedding and sharp corners and low-hanging electrical cables across the pens.
A lurcher could hardly move, a terrier was tied to a breeze block and a collie had a body score of one out of nine and was close to death.
Another dog was kept in a sealed container and it appeared impossible for anyone to get in to feed or water her, said Mr Hobson.
Inspectors also found pigs squealing through lack of food and water, and chickens that appeared not to have been fed or given access to water. One chicken collapsed in front of them.
The court heard Harris, who was present during the inspection, was “less than cooperative” during the process.
Harris and Howell both admitted cruelty offences in relation to the pigs and Harris to the chickens.
Mr Hobson said further investigation showed that Harris had a flock of 110 sheep on nearby land, which he rented.
The owner became concerned because he did not seem to be there to look after them and inspectors found sheep carcasses that should have been disposed of properly.
After Harris was made aware of their concerns the sheep disappeared, apart from 19 which he seemed to have simply abandoned.
Mr Hobson said an initial financial investigation suggested the couple had banked £150,000 between 2013 and 2018 through the sale of puppies.
A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation is underway to determine how much money could been confiscated from them. That matter will be settled at a court hearing on 15 November, 2019.
After his arrest Harris said he wanted to get the puppy farm up and running before applying for a licence.
Howell said she only looked after the paperwork.
For Harris and Howell James Hartson said he accepted that anyone seeing the photographs of the dogs could not fail to be mortified.
“They had ambitions for a business but lost control. It is likely the financial consequences will be punitive,” he added.
Mr Hartson urged the judge not to impose banning orders preventing the defendants from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs as that would effectively stop Harris from carrying out his work as a herdsman.
Judge Peter Heywood said animals were defenceless and Harris and Howell had housed them in totally inappropriate surroundings.
“This was a significant commercial enterprise and Harris was the driving force,” he added.
“You were in it to make money and had no regard for the welfare of the animals.”
The judge said Harris, who cannot read or write, had been the “driving force” behind the enterprise while Howell had assisted him.
He said he would be failing in his public duty if he suspended Harris’ sentence, but took into account that Howell had a young child when sentencing her.
Sentencing: Harris was jailed for six months (half to be served on licence) while Howell was given a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement. Both were made the subject of banning orders preventing them from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs, chickens, and sheep for the next five years.
#TheList unlicensed animal trader Bradley Michael Tomes, born 27/04/1995, of Moss Lane, Hesketh Bank, Preston PR4 – kept dozens of exotic animals in filthy conditions and with untreated injuries
Tomes pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the Animal Welfare Act after dozens of neglected exotic animals had to be rescued by the RSPCA.
The offences relate to six iguanas; two mara (large rodents from South America); 16 peafowl; two pelicans; three agouti (a rodent native to America and South America); five porcupines; one green parakeet; two jardine parrots; one golden pheasant; one green winged macaw; one white necked raven and one cape parrot.
In January 2019 the RSPCA were called by police to a farm on Taylors Meanygate in Tarleton and found the animals being kept in squalid and unsuitable conditions. The charity then attended a second address on Moss Lane, Tarleton where a shed-type building at the back of the premises contained a number of animals.
RSPCA Deputy Chief Inspector Alison Fletcher said: “Some of these animals were species we as RSPCA inspectors of many years’ experience had never dealt with before, and it was a shock to see them kept in such conditions.
“Both locations were filthy. Many of the animals were in accommodation that was obviously completely unsuitable, did not have access to food or water, or were suffering.
“At the farm, we found two mara inside a small plastic transportation crate on the floor of one of the make-shift buildings. Mara are a large rodent who stand up on their hind legs. The height of the crate was 300mm, or just 12 inches. The depth of the crate was 560mm, and the length was 870mm giving no real room for them to move around.
“A squalid enclosure at the same location housed three agoutis, two pelican and 13 peafowl (pictured above).
“Four porcupines (pictured right) were in a pen which was wet and muddy with just a small structure for shelter – temperatures on site were close to freezing with snow and driving rain.
“At the second address a macaw was found in a black crate, similar to a dog crate. The bird’s tail feathers were touching the sides of the crate.
“The iguanas were at this location too – all six of which were in poor body condition and four had injuries to their tails.”
Two animals, an Agouti and a Mara, have subsequently died, and the court heard further dead birds and animals were discovered at the same locations but are not subject to charges, as the cause of death cannot be established.
In mitigation the court heard that Tomes had an interest in animals all of his life and had been employed as a zoo keeper.
He had signed all of the animals over in February and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. He had gone through a difficult break up but had now turned his life around and had a new job and new relationship.
The surviving animals have been rehomed to specialist keepers.
Sentencing: 20 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months; 25 rehabilitation days; 120 hours of community service; total of £615 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping all animals for five years with no appeal for two years.
#TheList Harry Todd, born 10/04/1957, of 49 Joanmount Park, Belfast BT14 6PF – for abandonment of 150 pigeons; dog also found dead at his property
Todd was convicted of four animal welfare offences after causing a dog unnecessary suffering and abandoning more than 150 pigeons at an address on the Ballysillan Road.
The prosecution case was brought by Belfast City Council after a report from a member of the public who was concerned for the welfare of the birds. The person also informed staff of a dog carcass which was in an upstairs room of the property.
Animal welfare officers visited the address on 02 November 2017 and found the partially skeletonised remains of a dog, a number of dead pigeons and 153 pigeons deemed to be suffering.
Sentencing: five month suspended sentence for each offence. Costs of £79. Banned from keeping animals for 15 years.
#TheList minors aged 16 and 17 years from Milford Haven – stole a tame pet chicken from her owner and tortured her to death.
Chicken Daisy was subjected to a prolonged and brutal attack at the hands of two sadistic savages and others, during which she was chased, set alight and had her neck hacked at with garden shears. She was finally killed with a pitchfork. The pet’s agonising ordeal was filmed for Snapchat and shared with other feral yobs in the group for their sick entertainment.
Daisy’s ordeal took place at the home of a third youth who was investigated but not charged.
In court a veterinary surgeon described the youths’ actions as “gratuitous torture”.
Daisy’s owner Michelle Owen wrote a victim impact statement which was read to the court.
“When I discovered Daisy was gone I blamed myself, I thought I hadn’t secured the coop. My youngest two children were devastated when Daisy had gone, they were crying over her,” she said.
“Daisy was very tame and friendly, it’s not the same going to the coop. I always thought my garden was safe and secure, now I don’t leave my dogs out in case they disappear.
“When I think about what happened that night and the way Daisy suffered, it goes beyond cruelty.
“She was a part of the family, more than just a chicken.”
Defending the youths in court, Mike Kelleher said that the pair were facing the consequence of their “reprehensible” actions.
He said: “This was a cruel and nasty horrible incident. However it started it went horribly, horribly wrong. They are here today to face the consequences.”
RSPCA Cymru has described the incident as “horrifying” and expressed concern at the age of those responsible.
“This poor chicken was subject to the most horrendous treatment – taken, beaten, stabbed and set alight,” said RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben.
“I shudder to think what the poor animal went through.
“The offences were horrifying, and it is always deeply worrying when young people commit such crimes. They will now be subject to our Breaking the Chain programme – which highlights the impact acts like this have on animals and their welfare standards.
“RSPCA Cymru wants to inspire a future generation of animal ambassadors – who share our compassion and empathy for our fellow living creatures. Hopefully, this prosecution sets a clear statement that behaviours like this are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
David Allen, head of education at RSPCA , said: “Clearly, these were disgusting offences and it is particularly worrying that young people are committing such acts. Fortunately, we know most young people will be horrified by what happened in Milford Haven.
“Our new Generation Kind scheme brings together a series of initiatives – including those in the classroom, support for teachers, programmes to support vulnerable looked-after and disadvantaged young people, and those targeted at youth offenders.
“It is hoped that Generation Kind will help create a generation of individuals who are kind, compassionate and caring towards animals.”
The youths pleaded guilty to an Animal Welfare Act offence, namely causing the chicken to suffer unnecessarily.
Sentencing: 12-month referral order, which includes the RSPCA intervention initiative mentioned above. The older youth was ordered to pay £380 in compensation, costs and charges and the younger one was ordered to pay courts and charges totalling £400. They were both banned from keeping any animal for a period of 12 months.
#TheList persistent hoarder Edwin Harris, born c. 1939, of Murthering Lane, Stapleford Abbotts, Romford RM4 – kept 13 dogs, six pigs, six cockerels, two ducks, four cats, a pigeon and a rook in foul conditions; breached previous ban
Harris was banned from keeping animals for life for a second time after he admitted breaching a previous ban when he was found to be keeping a large number of animals in appalling conditions.
He also admitted failing to provide the animals with a suitable environment and causing unnecessary suffering to Bella, a Shar Pei-type dog, by failing to adequately investigate and address the cause of her ear and skin conditions.
The RSPCA attended the address in May 2018 with the police and found a large number of animals being kept in appalling conditions.
Dogs were found in small cages covered in mess and faeces with little or no water, and one was even found locked inside a cupboard which had been turned into a makeshift cage.
The cockerels, pigeon and rook were also kept in small cages covered in faeces, and the pigs were kept in a small narrow space within an outbuilding with hardly any room to turn round or exercise.
RSPCA Inspector Adam Jones said: “The conditions were appalling, most of the small animals and dogs were kept in cages and probably had not known any other life. They had obviously never been socialised and were scared.
“The cages had not been cleaned out and the animals were surrounded in their own faeces and dirt. If they did have water it was usually filthy. I was horrified to find one small Jack Russell being kept in a cupboard that the defendant had converted into some kind of makeshift cage.
“By his own admission the defendant had claimed he had a compulsion to keep animals because he loved them and he couldn’t stop taking them in. Had we not removed these animals it’s likely the numbers would have only increased – one of the pigs we removed had later had a litter of piglets.
“I hope that now he has been sentenced by the court the defendant will learn his lesson and not get animals which he clearly is unable to look after properly.”
Although the matter had crossed a custody threshold the bench said they had taken into account the defendant’s age and vulnerability and the fact that he has never been to prison before, but were keen for him to have some rehabilitation
In 2014 Harris was disqualified from keeping animals for life following a prosecution by the RSPCA.
Sentencing: Two-year community order with the requirement to carry out 135 hours of unpaid work and 60 days of Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; costs of £1,300 and a £85 victim surcharge. Lifetime ban on keeping animals.
#TheList: gypsy traveller James ‘Jimmy’ Goddard, born 06/06/1991, of 1 Mayles Close, Fareham PO17 5NF – beat a cockerel to death with a metal skewer as others filmed him
In a horrendous attack against a defenceless animal, Goddard chased the cockerel around a fenced area with a metal kebab skewer. As the cockerel attempts to run away, Goddard lunges at him, picks him up and beats him to death. As the bird dies Goddard celebrates with his arms in the air.
Police uncovered the video while carrying out a separate investigation.
RSPCA Chief Inspector Will Mitchell described the violent footage: ‘Mr Goddard chases the bird around taking swipes with the 3ft-long metal skewer like a baseball bat.
‘He then grabs hold of the cockerel, holds him upside down by his feet and, while the bird frantically flaps around and tries to escape his clutches, he beats his head with the pole.
‘He swings at the poor bird again and again, hitting him in the head like a pinata.
‘He then throws the bird’s body onto the ground and celebrates the vicious kill.
‘It’s absolutely shocking to watch. His violent behaviour and the savage cruelty he shows towards this bird is difficult to comprehend.”
Sergeant Andy Williams from Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team said: ‘We are pleased that Goddard has finally been punished for what really was a shocking and cowardly act against the animal.
‘We work closely with our partners from the RSPCA on a variety of rural and animal welfare matters.
‘Offences such as this have no place in modern society. When information is received about such offences, the Country Watch team is only too pleased to assist in investigating them and bringing offenders to justice.’
Sentencing: 18-week custodial sentence; total of £865 costs and charges. Banned from keeping any animal for five years.