#TheList Aidan Peter Spencer, born 14/05/1997, of Langhurst Court, Wenlock Close, Loundsley Green, Chesterfield S40 4PE.
Spencer pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by manhandling the dog and being aggressive towards her. No separate penalty.
He also pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a snake by keeping it in poor and inappropriate conditions.
Sentencing: Committed to prison for 12 weeks suspended for 12 months with an Alcohol Treatment Requirement, a Thinking Skills Programme and a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. Must pay £328.83 compensation, a £115 victim surcharge and £85 costs. Disqualified from owning or keeping animals for seven years.
#TheList David Cottrell, born 09/10/1966 of 18 Sandringham Drive, Newcastle upon Tyne NE16 5ZA – caused prolonged suffering to pigs he kept in shocking conditions
Cottrell, former owner of pork and black pudding supplier Medomsley Bangers was convicted of 31 animal welfare charges relating to animals on his site at Manor Road, Medomsley, County Durham, from March to October 2018.
They included charges of being a person responsible for farmed animals and failing to take steps to ensure they had the right conditions, and failing to comply with duty regulations 4, 5 and 7 of the Animal Welfare Act.
Catherine Hazell, prosecuting for the council, said animal health inspectors and a police officer had first visited the site at Manor Road on March 23, 2018.
They found a pen of 11 pigs living in deep slurry with no dry lying area and no water, alongside two pig carcasses.
Another pen containing one pig had no water. Piglets were crammed into a small pen with hardly any space and filthy drinking water.
Officers searched the fields and found horses with access to a large pile of debris and wood with nails and sharp pieces which could likely cause them injury, as well as sheep carcasses.
Cottrell was issued a notice to dispose of the animal by-products, but when officers returned weeks later there was still no dry lying area for 23 pigs, while sharp objects were still in the field with the horses.
During a further visit in October 2018 five underweight pigs were found with no feed available. Six adolescent pigs were crammed in a small pen and standing knee-deep in slurry with filthy water.
The council seized 44 pigs as well as piglets in November 2018. Some of the pigs have since had piglets. There were eventually about 150 pigs in total.
Cottrell only provided his consent to the council selling the pigs in June.
The upkeep of the pigs amounted to £27,765 offset by the sale of some
A probation report noted that Cottrell had decided to set up his own business sheep and pig farming more than three years after suffering serious injuries in a horse accident.
Cottrell told a probation officer that at the time of the incidents he was caring for his terminally ill mother and elderly father and it had got “too much for him”.
He added, a contractor providing him feed had also let him down.
Cottrell, who is selling the land, is now working as a private contractor providing security and as a takeaway driver.
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 300 hours of unpaid work with 15 probation activity days. He was ordered to pay £24,919, including costs of looking after the pigs and legal costs. Disqualified from owning or keeping pigs, sheep, poultry and horses for life.
#TheList Maria Warren, born 15/04/1966, of Parc An Tansys, Tansys, Camborne TR14 7PH – kept a dog and two cats in squalid conditions
Maria Warren was found guilty, in her absence, at an earlier hearing and was brought back to the court on warrant for sentencing.
The RSPCA had issued a warning notice to Warren on 3 May 2019, explaining that her pets were not living in a suitable environment. Warren failed to follow the charity’s advice and later denied access to them, causing concern for the welfare of the animals inside.
On June 7, 2019, a warrant was executed by the police where two cats, known as Midge and Smudge, and a dog, known as Finlay, were rescued.
Subsequent examination by a veterinary surgeon concluded that Midge was suffering as he was underweight, with extensive fur loss, scabbing and live fleas.
RSPCA Inspector Paul Kempson said: “The ground floor living room and kitchen were extremely messy with what appeared to be bags of general rubbish covering all of the floor area to a depth of about two feet.
“This rubbish was also covered in what appeared to be cat and dog faeces in various places. The kitchen was in a state of complete disarray with rubbish all over the floor, every work surface and the sink was piled high with unwashed dishes.
“Throughout the ground floor there were many hazards for the dog and cats inside the property, including empty dog and cat food tins all over the place.
“This case highlights how pet owners must follow advice, or seek help and support if they are struggling to cope with a situation they find themselves in.
“By failing to do this, and by displaying incompetent care, these animals were found in these awful conditions.”
In mitigation, the court heard that this was well intended but incompetent care and that the neglect of the animals was not deliberate.
Sentencing: ordered to pay £300 Banned from keeping animals for life with right of appeal after three years.
#TheList Mark Cuthbert, born 07/03/1977, of 82 Thornyflat Place, Ayr KA8 0NE – set his dogs on wildlife including badgers; bought cats online to use as live bait for his dogs; failed to get vet treatment for his dogs’ fighting injuries
Mark Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs for the purpose of an animal fight and killing a cat at home and at another premises.
Cuthbert used the selling website Gumtree to purchase the cats – with many owners believing their animals were going to a safe home.
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit (SIU) received intelligence in March 2018 that Cuthbert had dogs for animal fighting. The SIU obtained a warrant to search Cuthbert’s address and, upon inspection, found his pets had injuries consistent with animal fighting.
They also suspected he had been self-medicating his dogs to avoid drawing attention to his illegal activities.
Investigators seized an electronic device that contained video and images of animal fights. The clips included Cuthbert’s dogs killing badgers and domestic cats.
Objects in the footage matched animal fighting paraphernalia discovered at his home. Among the items seized were tracking collars, nets, live animal traps, syringes, superglue, and pet carriers.
DNA analysis of these supported the case that many of the items were used for animal fighting.
The dogs involved in the case were black and white Patterdale terrier, Billy, and two brown female Patterdale terriers known as Digger and Tally.
Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping dogs, cats and a rat for an animal fight contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 under Section 23 (1) (a), for procuring cats for the purpose of animal fighting and arranging, participating and causing animal fights to take place under Section 23 (2) of the Act.
Commenting on the investigation and court case, a Scottish SPCA undercover special investigation unit (SIU) officer said, “This is a truly horrific case of animal cruelty, where we suspect dozens of animals have suffered mentally and physically at the hands of Mark Cuthbert. His inhumane treatment of animals is completely unacceptable.”
“We investigate reports of animal fights every week and the imagery and videos we discovered on his phone are some of the most depraved and upsetting we have seen. One harrowing video shows the three dogs attacking a domestic cat in a field which is fighting for its life. It’s clear the cat was caused horrendous suffering and many of the cats he purchased will have suffered long, torturous deaths.
“Cuthbert had been picking up the cats for his dogs to attack from the online selling site, Gumtree.
“After contacting Gumtree, we found correspondence between Cuthbert and people who had listed their cats on the site which led us to believe large numbers of cats were uplifted from pet owners who trusted their cats were going to a good, safe home.
“As well as the cats he purchased under false pretence, his own dogs have been treated appallingly. When we visited Cuthbert, two of his dogs had very obvious facial injuries and scars to the face, nose and jaw. Digger had a healed injury to the lower lip which had caused a v-shaped deformity and Billy was very aggressive when approached.
“If you are using an online service to find a new home for, or sell, your pet, please be vigilant and ensure your pet is going to a safe environment. If you are suspicious, do not continue with the sale and notify the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.”
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit are experts in investigating animal fighting offences and rely on information from the public to continue to put a stop to this horrific activity. All information shared with the Scottish SPCA can be treated with confidentiality and can be reported to the animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
Sentencing: ten months’ imprisonment. Ten-year ban on owning or keeping any animal.
#TheList Daniel Mark Bowd, born 12/10/1991, of Old Stores Cottage, School Lane, Lower Leigh, Stoke On Trent ST10 4SS – kept starving dogs, cows and pigs in atrocious conditions on a smallholding
Daniel Bowd. former managing director of recently failed waste management company DM Bowd Environmental Services Ltd, kept dogs, pigs and cattle on a smallholding on Raddle Lane, Leigh, near Uttoxeter, but abandoned the animals to starve.
Staffordshire County Council raided the smallholding in January 2019 following a tip-off.
Five dogs in pens covered in faeces and urine
Pigs and cattle with no food or water
Pig skulls and smaller animal skulls in a field
A blood-covered pig which had been eating a dead pig
Prosecutor Khalid Mahmood told North Staffordshire Justice Centre: “A small pig had a blood-covered face as it had been eating the dead pig that was inside the pen. The officers then went looking in the pen and found skulls of dead pigs.
“The officers also saw cattle with no food or water and there was no dry lying area for them. Similarly, there was no dry lying area for any other animals.”
RSPCA officers inspected the dogs. They had wood in their rectum, their abdomens and guts felt empty, and they had scratches and damaged ears as if they had been fighting.
Bowd told the probation service that he was £60,000 in debt. He was working 14 hours every day just to ‘keep his head above water’ on a self-employed basis.
Lucy Taylor-Grimes, mitigating, said: “He just couldn’t keep up with the volume of food that the animals needed.”
Bowd admitted a catalogue of animal welfare offences against pigs and dogs. He also admitted failing to dispose of animal bones correctly, failing to maintain a register of the cattle on his holding, and not maintaining a proper veterinary medicine record for his livestock.
Sentencing: 18-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay £1,615 in court costs. Lifetime ban on keeping pigs, cattle and dogs with the possibility of review after five years.
#TheList puppy farmer Mark Burgess, born 22/05/1980, of Paddock View, Brenzett, Romney Marsh TN29 0BE – for multiple animal welfare offences.
A raid on a pet farm – during which inspectors found a puppy frozen in a freezer – led to a conviction for traveller Mark Burgess on eight animal welfare offences.
RSPCA inspectors descended on the Old Ashford Road in Brenzett, near Ashford, following complaints by four members of the public.
The complainants had purchased puppies from Burgess between December 2017 and February 2018, with all of the animals quickly falling ill and dying.
Footage captured during the early morning raid showed soaked bedding, shelters with bare, rotten floorboards and dogs chained to kennels.
In the bodycam video a range of concerns were highlighted, including a cat that was found shivering in a turned-off freezer.
RSPCA inspectors noted incidents of skin disease, claws growing into toepads and cat flu amongst the animals on the farm.
Among the more shocking discoveries caught on camera was the charred corpse of a small animal discovered in a “burner drum”.
Lead RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport said: “We found a mix of different breeds at the site including beagles, Dalmatians, spaniels and dachshund crosses.
“Some were pregnant, others had litters of tiny puppies while some had clear signs that they’d been used for breeding previously.
“Some of the dogs were extremely frightened and shut down. Some were living in almost complete darkness and others were huddled at the back of their runs.
“One beagle was sitting uncomfortably in a filthy, wet kennel. She looked so depressed.
“When we searched a freezer on-site we made a horrifying discovery; a small, four-week-old puppy.
“The body was frozen rigid and dumped in the bottom of a blood-soaked freezer.”
In total, 20 dogs were found living in unsuitable conditions and were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care – 12 adults and eight puppies.
Two cats and three kittens suffering from cat flu were also seized and later signed over.
An elderly German Shepherd – which it’s believed was Burgess’ personal pet – was showing signs of skin disease, muscle wastage and weak back legs after being found living outside, tethered to an old wooden kennel.
The German Shepherd was put to sleep but the remaining dogs were all signed over into RSPCA care and rehomed.
Eight infringements of the Animal Welfare Act were levelled at the 39-year-old, including causing unnecessary suffering to puppies by failing to investigate and address the cause of the animal’s ill health and by selling the animal in an unfit state.
Other convictions include failing to provide veterinary care in respect of a beagle’s eye condition and failing to provide a number of dogs with a suitable environment and diet.
At the sentencing hearing, Burgess’s lawyer Gordon Crow read a letter written by his client.
It said: “You’ve found me guilty of selling three puppies that I should have realised were ill and should’ve taken to the vet.
“I accept your decision and I apologise to all concerned.
“I’ve been brought up around animals and love being around them more than people.
“Since being found guilty it’s been a nightmare.
“I’ve even been shunned by my own traveller community.
“It’s my animals that have given me strength recently.
“I’ve always said I’ll pay the money back to the buyers and I’m sorry for what they’ve gone through.”
District Judge Justin Barron told Burgess: “I found your behaviour negligent in the sense that you sold these puppies and should have further investigated the cause of their illness, identified that illness and not going on to sell them.
“The animals should not have been sold in the condition that they were in.”
He said Mr Burgess’s “standards fell short”.
The RSPCA had requested Burgess should be banned from keeping dogs.
The judge responded: “From the latest evidence I have seen the dogs you are now keeping are well cared for and I do not see there is a need to ban you from keeping dogs.”
The judge described a press release issued after Burgess’s conviction at Canterbury Crown Court in August as being an “emotional statement not appropriately balanced”.
“It led to the impression he had been found guilty of deliberately and gratuitously causing suffering to animals which wasn’t my finding.”
He said the case had led him to consider “whether the RSPCA should continue to conduct its own prosecution”.
Sentencing: two-year community order, 30 days probation, a six-month curfew and a ban on the selling of dogs for two years.
#TheList Gary Stevens, born 13/07/1966 of Hallmoss Farm, near Peterhead AB42 3BP – for cruelty to livestock, a Shetland pony and a donkey
Stevens pleaded guilty to three of eight criminal charges raised against him under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
He had all his livestock seized by Aberdeenshire Council’s Animal Health and Welfare Service in August 2018, following a series of visits by inspectors, prompted by public concerns.
A vet deemed it necessary for the animals to be removed due to concerns over their poor condition, lack of veterinary treatment and the dreadful conditions in which they were kept.
A pig was euthanised to end its suffering and the remaining livestock were taken to a place where they could be restored to health. Aberdeenshire Council subsequently sought a disposal order at Peterhead Sheriff Court which was granted in February 2019 allowing the animals to be sold.
Senior council animal health and welfare inspector Pauline Anderson said: “We welcome the strong sentence that has been imposed in what was a very distressing case.
“As well as the wholesale suffering of the animals, the poor conditions at the farm meant there was a risk of disease spreading outwith the premises. The animals were kept in shocking conditions and we would like to thank Police Scotland and the Animal and Plant Health Agency for their support to allow us to remove them from the site.”
Mr Stevens was also found guilty of ‘extreme’ neglect of a Shetland pony and donkey.
The Scottish SPCA had visited Hallmoss Farm in June 2018 after concerns were raised to the charity’s animal helpline. The vet in attendance then said the state of the Shetland pony was ‘the most extreme case’ he’d come across in 34 years of practising. Her front feet were so badly deformed that they were deemed in-correctable, while her poor body condition was attributed to pain and stress, and she was subsequently put to sleep.
Inspector Fiona McKenzie said: “In my 12 years as a Scottish SPCA inspector, this is one of the worst cases I’ve ever dealt with and I’ve never seen such a disregard for animal welfare.
“We made every attempt to work constructively with Stevens and his family, including issuing statutory care notices to improve the welfare of their animals.
“They rebuffed this offer of support and were uncooperative. Ultimately, they attempted to hide the animals under the guise of them having been rehomed.
“This left us with no choice but to make a report to the procurator fiscal. From this investigation we took ownership of over 45 animals including horses, pigs, sheep, lambs, cats, dogs and terrapins.”
She added: “We worked closely with Aberdeenshire Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team who took their own case to the procurator fiscal. We are very pleased the sheriff exercised the maximum punishment available to Stevens. We hope this will act as a deterrent to others and be just one of many examples of more consistent sentencing for those who are cruel to animals.”
Sentencing: 18 months in prison, reduced to 14 because of the guilty plea. Lifetime ban on keeping all animals.
#The List badger baiters Murphy James Ian Thorne, born 16/04/1997 of 5 Grey Street, Gainsborough DN21 2PS and Dale Shields, born 13/03/1997 of 3 Laburnum Avenue, Gainsborough DN21 1ET
Gainsborough men Murphy Thorne and Dale Shields pleaded guilty to interfering with a badger sett and attempting to kill a badger, when they appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard how the pair were among three people who were spotted by a gamekeeper on land near Beckingham, Nottinghamshire, on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 3pm.
The gamekeeper suspected they were badger baiting – which is where a dog is sent into a sett to flush out the badger and attack it for the handler to then dig the badger out and kill it or take it away for it to be killed at a later date.
He alerted the police who arrested Thorne and Shields close to the scene and the court heard how Thorne told police: “I don’t get paid for doing it, but do it as a sport and it is something I enjoy”.
A six-foot hole had been dug into the badger sett and both men had spades. They also had a net which is often used to capture badgers.
Two dogs, wearing radio collars, were also seized from the men by police and were taken to a nearby vets in Retford for treatment as they had facial and dental injuries. One dog was in a collapsed state at the scene due to exhaustion.
The RSPCA were alerted to the incident and inspector Keith Ellis began an investigation.
He called the help of an expert badger witness who said the badger sett was active and had been disturbed. No dead badger was recovered but Inspector Ellis said it is possible the badger had died in the sett.
A veterinary expert who examined both Patterdale Terriers said the facial wounds were consistent with them been involved in a fight with another animal of a similar size and stature.
Inspector Ellis said: “The gamekeeper said he could see the men jump into a six-foot hole which they had dug down into the badger sett so he called the police.
“When they attended the scene it was clear that the sett had been interfered with and there were spades nearby.
“The dogs were wearing radio-collars which are used so the owners can locate where they are underground and when the dogs locate the badger the handlers dig down and usually kill the badger.”
A third man, who was arrested by police on the same day, denied the offences and his trial will take place at a later date.
The forfeiture of the dogs to the RSPCA was ordered and the animal charity will re-home them.
Sentencing: 18-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months; ordered to each pay costs and charges totalling £415. Five-year ban on keeping dogs.
#TheList Patrick Carter, born 17/11/1999, of 30 Lansbury Street, Greenock PA15 2NR – filmed his brutalised dogs ripping wild animals apart in a series of horrific animal fighting videos
Carter has been branded ‘barbaric’ after admitting to training his three dogs to attack and kill foxes and badgers and taking them on sickening hunts.
The thug’s vile cruelty — which took place over at least six months — was finally exposed after concern for the dogs was reported to the Scottish SPCA.
Investigators found multiple videos on Carter’s phone showing him and others goading their dogs to fight with foxes and drag badgers from their setts.
One piece of footage showed faceless individuals using spades to hit a doomed badger, as other participants in the barbaric “sport” urged them to allow the dogs to finish it off.
In another sickening video, a badger is pinned in place while dogs attack it.
Carter refused to seek vet treatment for his injured pets despite them suffering serious injuries in battles with badgers.
An undercover Scottish SPCA special investigations unit officer said: “The footage and pictures we uncovered are gut-wrenching.
“The animals he set his dogs on would have endured terrible suffering before they were killed.”
Carter’s dogs, a Patterdale/Jack Russell cross called Laddie, and lurchers Max and Murphy, have now been successfully rehomed.
During the investigation officers uncovered conversations between Carter and a pal discussing animal fighting as well as the result of a recent hunt.
Items associated with animal fighting, including a hunting lamp and used nets, were seized in a raid on his home.
The probe revealed that callous Carter regularly made Laddie, Max and Murphy fight wild animals and the dogs had also suffered severe injuries.
The undercover officer said: “Whilst his dogs appeared to be in good general health when we searched his property, Laddie had severe facial injuries consistent with animal fighting and Max had scarring to the jaw area and his leg.
“On further examination, Laddie and Max were found to have scarring and deformities within the mouth and nose consistent with previous severe traumatic injuries.
“Multiple videos of animal fighting were found on Carter’s personal devices, featuring two lurchers matching Max and Murphy’s description. All of the videos found were incredibly disturbing to view and the animals involved were clearly in great distress and suffered the most horrific end to their lives.
“Over the animals’ screams, voices can be heard in the footage goading and encouraging the dogs to tear the animals apart.”
The investigator said: “Badger baiting and animal fighting are far more common than people would think and anyone engaging in this barbaric activity is inflicting unimaginable pain on the animals involved.”
Carter is a known associate of Sean Ward, who was jailed for seven months in 2018 and banned from keeping animals for 20 years after his activities were discovered by the Scottish SPCA.
Carter pleaded guilty to keeping or training dogs for the purpose of an animal fight between February 6 and July 3 last year, contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
Sentencing: 225-hour community payback order; 6-month curfew; one-year’s supervision. Banned from keeping animals for 20 years.