#TheList Steven Sai Chong To, born 21/03/1992, and wife Charlotte Plimmer, born 15/11/1996, both of 13 Theatre Royal Apartments, 15 Shoplatch, Shrewsbury SY1 1HR – for cruelty offences relating to four kittens
Takeaway worker Steven To killed two kittens and inflicted months of abuse on two others while his wife, Charlotte To (née Plimmer) failed to react to the ongoing cruelty.
Between August 2018 and March 2019, the Tos inflicted abuse which RSPCA veterinarian Dr David Martin said was the worst he had seen in his 22 years of practice.
The court heard how eight-week-old kittens Jin and Sun, and two-month-old pets Moon and Mew, suffered seizures, broken bones, infections, hair and skin loss, multiple amputations and tail lacerations which left one “hanging on by a thread”.
Steven To pleaded guilty to three animal cruelty charges relating to harming the cats, and Charlotte To pleaded guilty to four charges of failing to provide a safe environment and veterinary care.
Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Sara Pratt, said: “The defendants lived together with their kittens in a flat in Shrewsbury.
“Over the period of August 2018 and March 2019, they acquired a total of four kittens, two of which were killed while in the care of the defendants, as a result of the actions of Steven To – Jin was almost 12 weeks old and Mew was just five months old at the time of their deaths.”
The court heard Jin and Sun were registered at Animal Trusts Vets and deemed healthy in August 2018, before Moon and Mew were registered at a different practice, Copthorne Veterinary Clinic, in November 2018.
Ms Pratt added: “On September 14, 2018, a phone call was made to Animal Trust Vets reporting that Jin had been playing, knocked over some recycling, started having a seizure and died.
“On September 21, Sun was anaesthetised and X-rays revealed a fresh fracture to her right tibia.”
The court heard in October 2018, Sun was taken to the vets with two “kinks” in her tail, before returning three days later with it “hanging off”.
The defendants bought Moon and Mew in November 2018, before Sun was taken to the vets again with hair and skin loss.
Mew then suffered an injury to her chin where the skin had become detached from her jaw bone and required surgery, the court heard.
Ms Pratt said: “Just seven days after surgery to her avulsed chin, Mew was returned to Copthorne Vets with an extreme fracture dislocation midway down the tail – all tendons had been ripped.”
Mew was found dead on the kitchen floor days after returning from the vets following a tail amputation.
The court heard that an RSPCA post mortem found evidence of blunt trauma to the right side of the cat’s thorax and neck, as well as evidence that the cat had lost blood externally through the nose.
The court then heard how in February 2019, Moon was taken to Abbey Veterinary Centre starved, and again with a leg fracture in March.
Following concerns raised by the veterinary practices and the RSPCA, later that month Moon and Sun were seized by police and a full investigation was launched.
A report by Dr Martin stated that it was “clear” all four cats sustained “serious injuries” and that two died from “traumatic incidents”.
He added: “It is exceptionally unusual to have such a significant incidence of serious trauma in four cats over such a short period of time, to the extent that in 22 years of veterinary practice, I have never seen or heard of such a high incidence of serious injury.”
District Judge Kevin Grego said there was “no doubt” a lifetime ban was necessary for Mr To, and that Mrs To should not have “covered her eyes” to the ongoing abuse.
He said: “The penny must have dropped after a short period of time. She [Mrs To] either should have got those animals out of the house or at the very least ensured it wasn’t going to happen again.”
Judge Grego added: “Animal cruelty is incisive of a mindset that’s corrosive and damaging – that’s what makes this so serious.
“There should be no doubt the animals that died and suffered did so as a result of deliberate cruelty from you, Steven.
“That cruelty and death could have been avoided if you, Charlotte, didn’t frankly cover your eyes and accept what your husband told you when you knew what you were being told was unsustainable
Sentencing: Steven To was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours of unpaid work, 25 days of rehabilitation, a lifetime ban on keeping animals and was ordered to pay £5,000 court costs, more than £3,500 in vets’ fees and a £122 surcharge.
Charlotte To was given a 12-month community order, with 25 days of rehabilitation, 40 hours of unpaid work, a seven-year ban on owning animals and was ordered to pay £390 costs.
#TheList Ian Ware, born 13/05/1946 , and Ann Ware, born c. 1960, both of Holly Road, Tiverton EX16 6HZ – failed to take their badly injured cat to the vet
The RSPCA visited the home of Ian and Ann Ware in September 2019 after receiving a call from a concerned member of the public.
The grey and white cat, known as Snowball, was rushed to a vet by RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Coggins where he had to be put to sleep because of the severity of his condition.
Inspector Coggins said: “The pinna was damaged, leaving the cartilage of the ear canal exposed.
“Around the ear canal there was a deep deficit in the skin and underlying muscle to the extent that the bone of the skull could be seen rostral to the ear canal.
“The diagnosis from the vet was of a chronic severe deep infection of the ear canal and surrounding tissues. The exact cause could not be ascertained on clinical examination but it may have resulted from a bite to the area from another cat or rodent.
“As a result of this infection, the vet found Snowball to be suffering severe pain and that the infection had been present for some time based on the severity and extent of tissue destruction including damage to the cartilage of the ear canal.”
The defendants admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Snowball by failing to provide prompt or effective professional veterinary care and attention for the severe and chronic infected wound of the left ear canal and surrounding tissue.
Sentencing: four-week curfew order; £110 each in court costs. Banned from keeping animals for three years.
#TheList Carl Anthony Dyson, born 03/04/1979, of 90 Belmont Avenue, Blackpool FY1 4BG – killed a cat by dropping a concrete slab onto her head to “put it out of its misery”
Father-of-two Dyson admitted killing the female black and white long-haired cat, called Paddy, at an address on Salthouse Avenue, Blackpool, on October 23, 2019.
The court heard how Dyson had been seen by a neighbour carrying Paddy, wrapped in a pink towel, into his friend’s back garden, where he dropped a large concrete slab twice on the animal’s head.
The witness said they saw the cat trying to wriggle free before Dyson let go of the slab.
Paul Ridehalgh, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the witness “saw Dyson drop a slab as thick as a laptop on the cat’s head as it lay in the yard”, and added: “She saw the cat try and escape from the blanket before Dyson did the same thing again.”
The neighbour alerted the RSPCA and inspectors found “a plethora” of traumatic injuries to Paddy’s head.
Mr Ridehalgh said: “The inspector observer a black and white plastic cat carrier that appeared to have blood on it. Inside he found the body of a black and white cat.
“The cat appeared to have suffered massive injuries to her head, as it was crushed on one side, with its eye bulging.
“The defendant said he believed the cat may have been hit by a car.”
After telling Paddy’s owner, Anthony Johnson, what had happened, the cat’s body was taken away for further inspection.
Mr Ridehalgh said: “The cat had suffered traumatic injuries to its head. The conclusion was that these injuries were caused by forceful, violent compression of the cat’s head. The death could have been very quick.
“The cat could have been suffering from some cancerous lumps in the head area. Vets also examined the cat and found it to be in a poor condition, it was severely underweight with fleas jumping off her. The fur was matted and covered in faeces.
“The cat’s head had clearly been crushed. The vet’s opinion was that the cat’s injuries were unsurvivable. In her opinion, the cat’s death would have certainly caused suffering… the dropping of a concrete slab on a cat is not an acceptable method of euthanasia, and any reasonable person would have taken the cat to a vet.”
A veterinary examination found the cat had been suffering from a cancerous tumour in the mouth and was severely underweight.
When interviewed by the RSPCA, the defendant claimed he thought the cat had been injured in a road accident and he “panicked”.
Dyson’s lawyer Gary McAnulty of Fylde Law told the court his client “was suffering at the time with some mental health problems, anxiety and depression.”
Sentencing Dyson, magistrate Ed Beaman said: “The cat was trying to escape the blanket and was not so ill as to be accepting of its fate.
“There’s evidence that the cat was distressed while in the blanket prior to the first impact. We believe the cat was still alive prior to the second impact, and this caused distress to both the cat and the witnesses who saw the offence.”
Sentencing: 12 weeks in jail (released on bail after lodging an appeal). Ordered to pay a total of £200 coss and charges. Banned from owning, keeping or managing animals indefinitely.
#TheList Aaron James Williamson, born 12/08/1999, of 33B Westerdale Way, Grimsby DN37 9BY – subjected a kitten to regular beatings and bit off his ear
Aaron Williamson was banned from owning animals for life after a court heard about his sickening catalogue of abuse against the young cat, known as Litten.
The thug admitted he had lost count of how many times he had punched Litten, and said he did so whenever he was angry. He also bit the kitten’s ear multiple times, removing most of it.
Williamson admitted one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to a kitten. Sentencing William, the judge described his actions as “sickening”.
The RSPCA confirmed three kittens were rescued from Williamson’s home on September 11, 2019, following a tip-off.
RSPCA inspector Kate Burris said: “Williamson tortured this kitten. He admitted repeatedly biting Litten’s ear, which resulted in the loss of most of it, and that he had lost count of the times he had punched Litten. He said he did it when he was angry.
“District Judge Curtis said his daily abuse of small, defenceless animals who were unable to harm him and were at his mercy was sickening.
“He said that Williamson had called himself a monster in interview, and that was accurate as to how he behaved.
“We are extremely grateful to the witnesses who contacted us, and got these kittens out of this situation despite the position that put them in. It was very brave.
“I was surprised how friendly Litten was when I first met him given the abuse he had suffered, he was so affectionate and loving and was rubbing his face against mine during his veterinary examination.
“I just knew he was going to make a perfect addition to any family.
“I am so happy that he has found a fantastic new home, with people who love him and are caring for him in the way he always should have been cared for. It could have been a very different outcome for him if we hadn’t been able to intervene when we did.”
Williamson’s two other kittens found a new home together in Derbyshire.
Sentencing: 12 weeks in jail. Ordered to pay £250 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. Lifetime ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Claire Hewitt, born 10/08/1988, of Park Road, South Moor, near Stanley, County Durham DH9
Single mother-of-five Hewitt was given an order banning her from keeping pets and ordered to pay £150 after she was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering after failing to address a dog’s poor condition between September 2019 and October 2019.
She was also in the dock for failing to take steps to ensure that the needs of a dog and three cats were met.
#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
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.
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 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.
#The List Eleanor (Ellie) Rose Marsh, born c. 1992, and Amy Elizabeth Youll, born 17/02/1992, both of Todmorden Road, Bacup OL3 – both pleaded guilty to not taking reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the eight dogs and three cats were met.
Sentencing: Both women were ordered to pay a total of £180 and banned from keeping animals for just 12 months. Deprivation order on all of the animals.