#TheList Dennis Thorne, born c. 1976, of Kington Magna, Gillingham, Dorset SP9 – failed to care for goats, ferrets and poultry on his smallholding
Thorne, who is a Romany gypsy, pleaded guilty to six offences under animal health and welfare legislation following an investigation by Dorset Council Trading Standards. This included four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to a flock of 30-40 poultry, two goats and two ferrets, by failing to provide them with appropriate care and one offence of failing to inspect his animals at regular intervals.
He also pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to tag his two goats, which is legally required to prevent animal disease spread.
In March 2019, trading standards officers visited land Thorne rented at Okeford Fitzpaine, near Sturminster Newton. They discovered the carcasses of around 20 ducks, chicken and geese littering the animal enclosure. The few surviving poultry were emaciated and in filthy conditions.
Two emaciated goats were also found in a small pen with no clean water or dry lying area.
In a nearby barn were cages containing the carcasses of two ferrets. The cages were filthy and all of the drinking containers were empty. Despite having received previous advice from the team, the goats were not tagged.
All the animals remaining in Thorne’s possession were seized by Trading Standards under the Animal Health Act and then cared for by the RSPCA. Thorne later agreed to give up his ownership of them.
The court was advised that Thorne had received a formal caution from the RSPCA in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.
Sentencing: 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. Community Order of 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation. Ordered to pay £715. Banned from keeping all animals for 10 years.
#TheList Paul G Robinson, born c. 1969, of Hill Farm, Harby Lane, Plungar, Nottingham NG13 0JH – for severe neglect of pigs, cattle and sheep
Robinson was visited by Trading Standards officers after a member of the public contacted them about the conditions his animals were being kept in.
When they arrived at Hill Farm, they found pigs were living in darkness and one ewe was not getting enough food to produce milk for her undernourished lamb.
Officers from the RSPCA attended the same day and they immediately took all 27 cattle and 46 pigs from the 20-acre farm for welfare reasons.
The sheep, goats, chickens and other animals were left on the farm.
Robinson pleaded guilty to 16 charges relating to the cattle, pigs and sheep.
But magistrates agreed to a ban that only included pigs and cattle.
While some of the offences he admitted were for causing suffering to his livestock, others related to failures to properly tag animals, notify the government about animal purchases and deaths and following codes of practice.
Adam Clemens, prosecuting on behalf of Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards, said: “The cattle and pigs had insufficient feed and the sheep had for the most part no feed.
“A third of the pens had no water and cattle were thin.”
He said pig carcasses were seen lying among the pigs while sheep carcasses had been burned.
Six further visits were made to the farm by the Trading Standards officers.
When Robinson was interviewed by Trading Standards the answers he gave were “cause for concern”, Mr Clemens said.
He said Robinson had never read any codes of practice farmers should follow, and did not think animals needed access to food and water at all times.
When asked about the burned lamb carcasses, Robinson said he believed his dogs had dragged the dead animals onto a bonfire, although he later pleaded guilty to burning four lamb carcasses.
Robinson told the interviewers he cleaned the animal sheds out every three to six months and saw no problem with the way the animals were being kept.
Mr Clemens said there had been many other concerns about the farm in recent years.
There was not a single year between 2012 and 2017 Trading Standards did not visit the farm and Mr Clemens said had no information about years prior to 2012 because the records were not available.
Kim Lee, representing Robinson, said his client had always been “less than a junior partner” to his father who “would rule the farm with a rod of iron”.
He said his client had been “overwhelmed” since his father’s death a year ago and was also struggling to look after his mother, who suffers from dementia.
Meanwhile, the farm was making a loss of about £3,000 per year, he said.
Mr Lee said: “This is a man who recognises the error of his ways and has taken steps to address the errors of the past.
“His financial situation is precarious. It’s no life. There’s no profit.”
Mr Lee asked the magistrates not to ban Robinson from keeping all animals so that he could continue as a farmer.
He said: “It’s all he’s known – man and boy.”
He said his client would not mind being banned from keeping pigs and cattle and would reduce the number of sheep on his farm from 81 to no more than 50.
Sentencing: six-month jail sentence suspended for two years; ordered to pay total of £2,115 costs and charges. Lifetime ban on keeping pigs and cattle.
#TheList Edward ‘Eddie’ George Bath, born 04/06/1961, of 97 Arrael View, Abertillery NP13 1SU – for failure to care for a large number of horses, goats and poultry.
Bath pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences after the RSPCA found significant failings in his care of 42 horses at a farm in Old Blaina Road, Abertillery
Two horses were found collapsed and were sadly put to sleep on the advice of a vet.
RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil said: “Sadly these animals were not cared for appropriately.
“The horses outside were not given enough food and were not provided for. The stables were filthy and it was just appalling to see these numbers of animals poorly being cared for.”
Inspector McNeil added: “We issued warnings to improve the conditions at the premises, which included a large number of horses, two goats and poultry.
“Sadly this advice was not taken on board and in March we returned and through a warrant, we removed 37 horses. One of these horses was put to sleep due to its condition on the advice of a vet. On this occasion, we also removed 20 poultry and two goats – one of which was pregnant.”
All animals are now signed over to the RSPCA and are being placed into the rehoming process.
Sentencing: 18-week custodial sentence for each offence (to run concurrently) suspended for 18 months; 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement; total of £1,675 costs and charges. Banned from keeping all animals for life.
#TheList hoarders Simon Hallgarth, born c. 1971, and partner Paul Walker, born c. 1976, both of 2 Holland Close Villas, Woodhouse, Belton, Doncaster DN9 1QJ – for cruelty towards 52 dogs and three goats
Simon Hallgarth and Paul Walker pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The RSPCA were alerted to the plight of the pair’s animals after receiving a call to its cruelty line about three abandoned goats, who were found living in a poor environment with no access to water.
As RSPCA Inspector Tamsin Drysdale spoke to Walker, a number of dogs could be heard barking from inside a garage nearby so she asked if she could see them.
She said: ““As the garage door was opened the smell of faeces and urine was overwhelming. There were four pens with various breeds of dogs living in them.
“Their food and water bowls were filthy and empty and the dogs were pungent, their coats in various stages of matting.
“The three dogs in the last pen were in such a poor condition I wasn’t sure what breed they were. Two of the dogs were moving, albeit very slowly, but the third dog, a Bichon Frise called Peggy, appeared to be dead.
“I went into the pen and gently shook her and I was shocked when she moved slightly.
“At the vets she was found to be very thin, in respiratory distress and hypothermic. She was initially unable to be examined because of the extent of the matting, which had to be cut away.
“She had a fractured wrist and wounds on her back legs so badly infected that they were down to the bone. The damage was irreparable and she was put to sleep on humane grounds.
“A large number of dogs were also living in the house, and though these were in better condition than those in the garage, many of these were also suffering.”
Three other dogs were also put to sleep on veterinary advice, including a 17-year-old Shih Tzu called Daisy who was in severe respiratory distress and had two blind shrunken eyes that were discharging green pus and her ears were also discharging pus.
Another dog, Cookie, had to have a leg amputated.
Seven of the 52 dogs removed from the property were suffering with severe dental disease, four of them with ear infections, two of them with eye infections and one with overgrown nails that had penetrated the pads of the dog’s feet.
Thirteen of the dogs and the three goats did not have their needs met due to the environment they were living in and/or a lack of fresh clean drinking water.
In mitigation, the court heard that Hallgarth had bought the dogs as a way of coping after the death of his mother in 2013, with whom he had bought the property, lived and owned dogs previously.
He accepted that he had caused very high suffering and was remorseful.
In respect of Walker, the court heard that the offences had been borne out of concern and care for his husband.
The court heard that both defendants were overwhelmed financially and by the level of care the animals needed. They were of previous good character and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
Sentencing: 14 weeks in prison; post-sentence supervision orders of 12 months, less the time served in prison. Lifetime ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Stephen D Bowes, born 1971, of 48 Cranleigh Court Road, Yate, Bristol BS37 5DJ – possessed images showing human intercourse with reptiles, horses, goats, donkeys and dogs
Between 8/12/16 and 3/11/17 made category A, B and C images of children and possessed a pornographic image which portrayed, in an explicit and realistic way, persons performing an act of intercourse with live animals or reptiles namely snakes, horses, goats, donkeys and dogs.
Sentencing: Bowes was due to be sentenced on 29/08/18 but the outcome was not reported.
#TheList Amanda Ann Munro, born 16/06/1962, of Rakehill Road, Scholes, Leeds LS15 4AL – kept a family of three Shetland ponies in disgusting conditions and failed to meet the needs of a goat
Munro, a former parish councillor for Scholes on Barwick in Elmet and Scholes Parish Council, was convicted after a trial at Bradford Crown Court in May 2017 of causing unnecessary suffering to three Shetland ponies and failing to ensure their needs were met under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. She was also convicted of failing to meet the needs of a goat.
Munro neglected the animals over a period between November and December 2015. The ponies, named Cocoa, Cookie and Oreo, were kept in a paddock adjoining Munro’s home.
Munro appealed against her conviction but in January 2018 this was rejected.
RSPCA inspector Carol Neale said: “These ponies – who were mummy, daddy and baby – were all very thin and suffering. The conditions they were living in were simply disgusting. They were literally wading in faeces, it was that bad, just a stone’s throw from Munro’s home.
“The goat was housed in a building on the same field. When we attended he was shut in there alone with no access to food or water, and had overgrown hooves.
“All we could hear when we were dealing with the ponies was the goat calling to us from a tiny window. Munro said the door had jammed so she couldn’t get inside, and we had to break it down to get to him.”
She was originally banned from owning, keeping, dealing or transporting equines or goats for five years but this was extended to life.
The animals were removed on veterinary advice in December 2016 and placed in the care of charity World Horse Welfare.
World Horse Welfare field officer Sarah Tucker said: “This has been a long drawn out case but I am very happy with the outcome.
“When I attended the location, the three of them were all huddled in a corner looking dull and lethargic.
“This situation could have been easily rectified by providing good quality food and a clean living environment.”
Sentencing: 12 month community order, including 200 hours of unpaid work; £3,250 costs. Banned from keeping equines and goats for life – with no appeal against the disqualification for seven years. A deprivation order was placed on the three ponies and goat and an order was made to confiscate a further 10 equines remaining in Munro’s care.
#TheList publican Darren Turner, born 03/04/1975, of the Kings, 20 Wood Street, Swindon SN1 4AB – neglected four goats he kept in a ‘petting zoo’ at his pubs
Darren Turner, who owns four pubs, including 20 at the Kings, the Clifton in Old Town and the Fox and Hounds in Wroughton, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to four goats between the start of December 2015 and January 20 2016.
Turner kept the goats at his pubs as part of a menagerie.
Graham Gilbert, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said when a vet saw the goats in April 2015 she was immediately concerned for their hooves, though they were otherwise in good health.
Their feet were not entirely normal, he said, and she discussed the long term prognosis for them with Turner, saying the hooves needed to be regularly trimmed.
The following months she wrote him a letter outlining the long term options for the animals, including the possibility of them being put down if it got worse.
Mr Gilbert said the vet said she lost contact with Turner after July 2015 and in October she was at the Fox and Hounds, not to visit the goats, when she spotted them.
“It appeared the goats’ feet had deteriorated,” he said, and though she called Turner and left a voicemail, he did not get back to her.
In January 2016 an RSPCA officer saw the goats had an odd gait and because of the impact the hooves were having on the quality of their lives they were destroyed.
The legs were then removed and sent to an expert who said the hooves were severely overgrown to a worrying degree, and curling up on themselves.
In at least two he said there were pathological fractures and also had problems with their knees.
“He concluded the goats were clearly in pain and that would have been entirely apparent to anyone who saw them from their gait,” he said.
When he was interviewed by RSPCA officers in January 2016 Turner accepted he knew their hooves needed to be trimmed regularly.
“He said the last thing he wanted was for the goats to suffer in any way, or for them to be put down,” he said.
Alex Daymond, defending, said his client had got the animals, which had issues with their legs and feet when he got them, as part of a sort of petting zoo at his pubs.
He said he never intended to cause any harm to them but accepted for a short period of time he neglected to look after them properly.
Turner now employed two people full time to look after the animals, he said, and had also spent £40,000 to care for them.
And he said because of the nature of his work running four pubs he would struggle to find the time to complete any unpaid work.
Recorder Patrick Clarkson QC, sitting with two magistrates, said they would not ban him from keeping animals as recent inspections had not raised any welfare issues.
Sentencing: 80 hours of unpaid work. No ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Julie Smith (born 16/02/1956), Edward Smith (born 22/07/1953), Patrick Smith (born 12/02/1957) and Michael Morley (born 29/03/1978), all of White House Farm, Hemel Hempstead Road, Redbourn, St Albans AL3 7AQ – for the appalling neglect of horses, goats and dogs, which were kept in a “rubbish strewn holding teeming with rats”.
All four defendants were convicted at St Albans Magistrates’ Court in relation to the welfare of dozens of animals at White House Farm in Redbourn.
By the time the RSPCA had left, well after 9pm, three horses had been removed, three horses and one goat euthanised, and at least 14 goats had their feet clipped.
Twenty dogs were removed from the site, four of which were subsequently euthanised.
The judgement described the RSPCA inspectors as “credible and thoroughly professional. Much of the cross examination of these two witnesses revolved around the suggestion that [the officers] attended the farm that day with a ‘mindset’ of gathering evident to support a prosecution and ensure Edward Smith and his family never showed horses again.
“There was a suggestion of a long held ‘hostility’ towards the Smiths. I find no evidence whatsoever that this was the case. In fact, quite the contrary.”
The judge added that “photographic evidence showed a lame horse with grossly overgrown hooves”.
“[RSPCA] video footage speaks for itself. For anyone to suggest that these were anything other than appalling conditions in which to keep a horse would be deluding themselves, and against all common sense.”
“What was initially a routine visit commencing at about 11am that morning turned out to be a very large and time-consuming investigation revealing many instances of animal welfare and poor animal husbandry practices of an obviously longstanding almost overwhelming nature.”
There were “40 or so dogs found in an unlit, wet and cold outbuilding”.
Judge Mellanby added: “The photographs are truly shocking together with the deep mud and utterly squalid conditions beggars belief. For anyone to suggest these horses were not suffering is absurd.”
One horse was “so lame he was barely able to walk and was euthanased on site”.
In one barn, “horses must have suffered by being confined in such dreadful conditions with nowhere dry to lie down and scarcely able to move in the mud let alone the hazards of broken corrugated iron planks of wood, faeces, not to mention the rats which populated the entire site. Their needs were clearly not being met.”
There were goats with “grossly deformed and distorted long hooves”, but upon clipping, they began resuming normal walking.
The judge said: “The goats were hobbling and staggering around, I have no doubt that they needed to have their feet clipped to relieve their obvious suffering.”
In a prepared statement, Edward Smith said he was responsible for show horses in one barn and horses in the field, but the remaining ones belonged to Stephen Parkin. He also said his wife “gave the goats to Stephen”.
Julie Smith said: “I am not 100 per cent sure who owns which horses.”
But the judge said the couple had control of the horse passports and that Julie Smith must have known exactly who owned which horse and,
“Julie, Edward and Patrick have provided no evidence of how and when they were transferred to Stephen Parkin.”
Judge Mellanby said she did “not believe their written statements”. Furthermore, neither Edward nor Julie Smith “gave evidence at the trial”.
Michael Morley “was the only defendant to give evidence at the adjourned hearing. He unequivocally accepted full responsibility for each of the dogs, the subjects of the charges. He was clearly trying to care for ageing and sick dogs without any support from his employers Edward and Julie Smith. He did not go to them for help or money to take them to a vet.
“He was courageous in the way he gave his evidence and faced full responsibility for lack of care of the dogs … each dog was suffering without doubt.”
Sentencing: Morley – community order of 150 hours’ unpaid work; costs and charges of £2,060. Disqualified from keeping or owning any animals for two years (expired February 2019).
Edward and Julie Smith: 10-week custodial sentence suspended for two years. Costs and charges totalling £10,080 each. The couple were also disqualified from owning goats and horses for just three years (expires February 2020).
Patrick Smith was found not guilty of the 10 charges against him.