Category Archives: Reptiles

Cruelty to snakes, bearded dragons, chameleons, tortoises, other reptiles

Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria: Wayne Moffatt and Ian Henry

Animal abusers Wayne Moffatt and  Ian Henry of Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, UK, pictured outside court
Animal abusers Wayne Moffatt and Ian Henry pictured outside court

#TheList reptile retailer Wayne P Moffatt, born c. 1961, of 10 Storey Square, Barrow in Furness LA14 2HU and his employee Ian Henry, born c. 1969, of St Vincent Street, Barrow in Furness LA14 – for neglecting more than 60 exotic animals at the store store

Animal abuser Wayne Moffatt of Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, UK
Wayne Moffatt

Wayne Moffatt, the owner of the Living World pet shop in Barrow, was found guilty of animal neglect charges alongside his friend Ian Henry. The verdict followed a two-day trial.

The pair had denied charges of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of animals including several species of snakes, frogs, geckos and monkeys at the Dalton Road store.

Animal abuser Wayne Moffatt of Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, UK

The judge also ordered animals in the store to be taken away by the RSPCA. The court heard a number of animals, including several species of snakes, frogs, geckos and monkeys were previously taken away by the RSPCA when a warrant was executed in February 2019.

Ordering the ban, Mr Chalk said: “I have no doubt that you have a keen interest in exotic animals but I do not think you have the necessary qualifications and understanding to deal with these animals.

“You need to think very carefully about whether you should keep animals of that type again unless you have the knowledge to deal with them appropriately.”

The shop licence to sell animals was refused by Barrow Council in 2018.

Living World premises at 228 Dalton Rd, Barrow in Furness
The Living World store at 228 Dalton Rd, Barrow in Furness

RSPCA inspectors and vet Victoria Temple had told the court a number of the animals were being kept at temperatures too low or too high and in spaces too small.

In court, Moffatt, who has previous convictions for drug offences, said he disputed those findings and insisted the animals were being kept at appropriate ‘winter’ temperatures – and in enclosures big enough.

He repeatedly told the court: “In my 20 years of keeping animals I have never knowingly let an animal suffer or be in pain under my care.”

But the court was told the temperatures still fell short of legal guidelines.

Henry’s solicitor Maureen Fawcett had argued her client was only a friend of Moffatt’s and should not be deemed responsible for the welfare of the animals because he was not employed at Living World.

Moffatt said in his closing statement: “I’m very sorry Mr Henry is here.”

Ms Fawcett said: “It was Mr Moffatt that owned the pet shop and was responsible.

“In my respectful submission there isn’t sufficient evidence that Mr Henry had knowledge of the needs and upkeep of the animals.”

RSPCA prosecutor Steven Marsh said: “There is overwhelming evidence that Mr Henry was responsible for the animals.”

The court heard Henry had been on his own in the shop during a number of official visits, including the day the animals were taken in the execution of a warrant.

Moffatt – 300 hours of unpaid work ; total of £885 costs and charges. Henry – 240 hours of unpaid work; costs and charges totalling £585.
Both were banned from keeping primates, reptiles and amphibians for the next two years (expires October 2021).

The Mail

Loundsley Green, Chesterfield: Aidan Spencer

#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.

Derbyshire Times

Hillsborough, County Down: Aaron Hobby

#TheList Aaron Hobby, born 09/07/1999, of 29 Grove Park, Hillsborough BT26 6JF – failed to ensure the welfare of several reptiles in his care

Aaron Hobby from Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, failed to look after several reptiles in his care

A milk snake, a gecko and a bearded dragon were among the reptiles found in poor conditions when Animal Welfare Officers from Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council visited Hobby’s property in August 2017.

The reptiles were taken into the care of council after a veterinary surgeon assessed them as being likely to suffer.

In particular, the bearded dragon – a cold-blooded reptile which originates from warmer climates and requires artificial heating to remain healthy when kept in captivity – was being warmed by a red bulb, exposing it to serious risk of injury.

A council spokesperson said: “The Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 gives us the powers to prosecute anyone who neglects the needs of exotic as well as domestic animals.

“The substantial financial penalty imposed in this case is a positive outcome as it goes much further in sending out a clear message that those who fail to properly look after animals in their care may face more severe punishments.

“The conditions, in which these reptiles were kept, fell far short of what is acceptable.”

Sentencing: ordered to pay just under £2,100 in legal fees and care costs in addition to a £100 fine and a £15 offender’s levy. Five-year disqualification from keeping and owning animals.

Portadown Times

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire: Gary Stevens

#TheList Gary Stevens, born 13/07/1966 of Hallmoss Farm, near Peterhead AB42 3BP – for cruelty to livestock, a Shetland pony and a donkey

Gary Stevens from Peterhead caused suffering to livestock, a donkey and a pony.
Gary Stevens was jailed over the ‘extreme neglect’ of a pony and a donkey. A total of 45 animals, including horses, pigs, sheep, lambs, cats, dogs and terrapins, were removed from his Peterhead farm by the Scottish SPCA.

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.

Scottish Farmer
STV News

Pontyates, Carmarthenshire: Leighton Donnelly

#TheList Leighton Marc Donnelly, born c. 1984, of Maes Glas, Pontyates, Gwendraeth Valley SA15 – abandoned snakes to starve to death

Leighton Donnelly of Pontyates, Wales, left two snakes to die in an abandoned property

Leighton Donnelly pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – when he appeared before magistrates.

The court heard that he fled a property in Baptist Well Street, Waun Wen, Swansea after falling behind on his rent. When the landlord entered the house after weeks of failing to make contact, he found a starving boa constrictor loose in a bedroom.

A dead snake was found in a vivarium in the property.

Jon Tarrant, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court the grim discovery was made on April 14, 2019.

Mr Tarrant said the boa constrictor was examined by a vet who said the animal was in a very emaciated state, and had lost a significant amount of body weight.

The vet concluded the snake “would have needed a prolonged period of starvation” to end up in such a poor physical state.

Leighton Donnelly of Pontyates, Wales, left two snakes to die in an abandoned property

In his interview Donnelly admitted that last time he had seen the snakes was in “February or March”.

The defendant, who represented himself in court, apologised for actions.

Magistrates told him courts took animal offences seriously and he had shown a “flagrant disregard for the welfare” of the snakes.

Sentencing: 12-month community order with a rehabilitation course and 60 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £400 towards costs. Banned from keeping any animal for two years.


Byrness, Northumberland: Lynn Stoker

#TheList breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker, born c. 1957, of Raw Farm House, Byrness Village, Newcastle upon Tyne NE19 1TR – jailed for cruelty to more than 100 dogs and puppies

Breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker of Northumberland, UK, left 100 dogs to suffer in her squalid home
Breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker left 100 dogs to suffer in her squalid home

Stoker was found guilty of 11 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and four counts of failing to ensure an animal’s welfare needs were met. Her conviction came after 107 dogs and six puppies were found living in cramped cages and with no fresh drinking water.

She had denied all charges but was found guilty after a four-day trial.

Shocking and distressing footage released by the RSPCA shows dozens of dogs cramped and locked up in cages.

Stoker was breeding dogs but struggled to sell them on and ended up with a house full of animals. She initially asked for help re-homing the pets but began behaving ‘evasively’ and ‘aggressively’ so a search warrant was issued in May 2018.

The RSPCA told the court that “not a single dog was in a healthy condition” when they were discovered locked up in cramped cages at Stoker’s home in May 2018.

The animals were suffering from a range of untreated health problems including chronic dental disease, eye infections and hip injuries. Stoker also failed to provide them with sufficient water.

Breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker of Northumberland, UK, left 100 dogs to suffer in her squalid home
Many of the dogs hadn’t had veterinary treatment in years in some cases and were at an advanced stage of suffering.

Three dogs had a level of dental disease so high it resulted in a fractured jaw, and one of them only had three teeth as all the rest had fallen out because of severe disease.

Some animals were in such a bad state they needed to be put down.

The dog breeder claimed that her pets were never neglected and she had been doing the job for 25 years.

Breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker of Northumberland, UK, left 100 dogs to suffer in her squalid home

The pets at her home also included two cats and a tortoise.

Sentencing Stoker, district judge Bernard Begley said: “This is a particularly serious type of offence. Significant costs have been incurred.

“I really can’t find any redeeming features. This was a high level of suffering – some animals were euthanised.

“You have not shown a shred of remorse or contrition.”

Sentencing: jailed for 21 weeks; ordered to pay £50,000. Disqualified from keeping or breeding animals for at least 15 years.


Clowne, Bolsover, Derbyshire: Simone Maughan

#TheList Simone Maughan, born 23/06/1992, previously of Westlea in Clowne and now of 38 Scarsdale Street, Bolsover, Chesterfield S44 6JW – kept two starving dogs in a small cage; neglected a bearded dragon

Simone Maughan of Derbyshire UK is banned from keeping animals for five years after starving her pet dogs and neglecting a bearded dragon

Mother-of-three Simone Maughan pleaded guilty to three animal welfare offences when she appeared at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court.

Simone Maughan of Derbyshire UK is banned from keeping animals for five years after starving her pet dogs and neglecting a bearded dragon

The court heard how she had left Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dogs Zena and Lola – mother and daughter – in a tiny cage in the kitchen of her house.

The RSPCA were alerted after a member of the public reported the starving pets.

Simone Maughan of Derbyshire UK is banned from keeping animals for five years after starving her pet dogs and neglecting a bearded dragon

Inspector Helen Mead arrived at the address and found the two emaciated dogs locked in the cage.

She also found a bearded dragon lizard in the living room with no light source or heat source, leaving the reptile close to death.

She immediately took the pets for emergency veterinary treatment and all have now recovered from their ordeal in RSPCA care.

Simone Maughan of Derbyshire UK is banned from keeping animals for five years after starving her pet dogs and neglecting a bearded dragon

Inspector Mead said: “I was really worried when I saw how frail the dogs were with all their bones protruding, they were in a very poor condition but were so friendly.

“Through normal feeding, they were able to return to their healthy body weight. But it could have been so different if this situation had been allowed to continue.

“There is no excuse not to provide the basics of food and water for pets so anyone who is struggling should ask for help at an early stage.”

In defence of Maughan, who now lives in Creswell, the court heard that she was suffering from depression at the time and was of previous good character.

Sentencing: 40 hours of unpaid work and eight-day rehabilitation order; £300 costs and a £150 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for five years.

Derbyshire Live
ITV News

Kingston upon Hull: Sophie Esnee

#TheList Sophie Esnee, born c. 1990, of Belmont Street, Hull HU9 – threw her pet snake at a neighbour; failed to provide a suitable living environment for the snake.

Snake abuser and serial violent troublemaker Sophie Esnee from east Hull, UK
Sophie Esnee

Serial troublemaker and alleged drug addict Esnee was fined £100 and banned from keeping reptiles for seven years, for failing to provide a suitable living environment for the snake, known as Lucifer.

Esnee received no separate penalty for a further offence in neighbouring Estcourt Street on February 12, 2018, when she failed to protect Lucifer from “pain, suffering, injury and disease”, by “taking the snake out on a February evening and throwing the snake at another person”.

Both offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 were proved in Esnee’s absence at Hull Magistrates’ Court.

Lucifer was ordered to be taken into the care of the RSPCA to be rehomed.

In May 2019 Esnee, who has two aliases, was convicted of damaging a latched wooden door belonging to a pizza restaurant, assaulting a police constable by beating, possessing cannabis, and assault by beating.

Sentencing: total of £280 fine, costs and charges. Banned from keeping reptiles for seven years with the right of appeal after five years.


Wallasey, Merseyside: Thomas Bennett

#TheList Thomas Anthony Bennett, born 08/01/1987 of 54 Rice Lane, Wallasey, Wirral CH44 0DQ – abandoned a dog, a snake and a bearded dragon without food or water for several days

Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.
Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.

Father-of-two Thomas Bennett pleaded guilty to three animal welfare charges after neglecting three pets, including a snake that was found dead at his property.

Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.
Bruno is recovering in the care of the RSPCA

The dog, a nine-year-old Rottweiler called Bruno, was found barricaded in a squalid kitchen which was full of faeces.

Neighbours allegedly heard a dog ‘barking for days’ on the street – with one resident fearing the house was empty for ‘at least a week’.

Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.
Conditions inside the property where Tom Bennett left three animals without food or water

RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes, who investigated, said none of the animals had food or water.

He said the python was found in a vivarium and had been dead for some time. The bearded dragon was in such a bad state of health that police officers initially thought he was also dead.

Anthony said: “Bruno was locked in a filthy kitchen which had been barricaded shut with furniture. He had no food or water and was surrounded by faeces.

“There were some empty dog food cans in the kitchen and because he was so hungry he had started chewing them.

“He was clearly underweight but since he has been the care of the RSPCA he has done really well and it is hoped he will be rehomed soon.”

Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.
Animal abuser Thomas Anthony Bennett from Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside

Anthony said: “From the state of decomposition it was clear the snake had been dead sometime.

“The bearded dragon looked close to death but was given specialist medical care – including having a feeding tube inserted into his stomach – and made a full recovery.

“Sadly, recently he developed a tumour in his mouth and a vet decided the kindest thing to do would be to put him to sleep but I am grateful he enjoyed a few months of life being properly cared for.”

“Bennett didn’t even have the right equipment for keeping a bearded dragon – there was no UV light for him and without this they develop bone problems and will be unable to live a healthy life.

“Reptiles and other exotic pets are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet.

“People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home.

“This is why the RSPCA would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal’s needs and whether they’re the right pet for them.”

Tom Bennett left three pets, including Rottweiler Bruno, without food and water in his filthy home.

Bennett admitted he had not fed the bearded dragon and snake for at least six weeks and said this was because he was struggling financially.

Sentencing: 12-month jail term suspended for 12 months; 20-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; total of £515 costs and charges. Five year ban on keeping animals.

Liverpool Echo
Wirral Globe

Aberdeen: Yasmin Doherty and Frankie Kane

#TheList Frankie Jane Kane, born 03/07/99 of Printfield Walk, Woodside, Aberdeen AB24, and Yasmin Doherty (aka Yasmin Walker), born circa 2000, of Marischal Court, Castlehill, Aberdeen AB11 – filmed themselves abusing an escaped boa constrictor in the street

Yasmin Doherty (left) and Frankie Kane

Vile Frankie Kane and Yasmin Doherty shared twisted videos of themselves mistreating the snake, named Esmerelda, on social media site Snapchat.

Kane hurled the escape animal 10ft across an Aberdeen street and Doherty swung her above her head.

The disturbing footage which they captured in the early hours of July 4, 2018, showed Esmerelda “writhing in pain” and sparked widespread outrage on social media.

Kane later confessed to causing the animal unnecessary suffering and throwing her, while Doherty admitted the same but also pleaded guilty to “spinning the snake around” and causing her to suffer injury.

Fiscal depute Rebecca Clark said: “The snake’s owner, who had it for three years, kept it in an enclosure in his bedroom and noticed it was missing – but thought it was elsewhere in the property.

“It was 3am when the two accused were outside the Marischal Court block of flats and found it.

“Both were under the influence of alcohol at the time, and Doherty began filming the snake on her mobile phone and posting it on Snapchat.

“Kane then picked it up and threw it several feet across the road.

“The snake appeared to be moving in a distressed state and Doherty said ‘it’s real’ before before picking it up, spinning it around above her head and throwing it.”

A passer-by intervened at that point and handed Esmerelda in to the police, who gave her to the Scottish SPCA.

Ms Clark added that the 4ft snake was “regurgitating blood”, and “appeared to be convulsing in pain”.

She said: “The chief inspector described the animal as writhing about in agony, coughing up blood and clearly dying.

“The decision was made to humanely destroy the snake, which had severe internal injuries.”

Kane’s solicitor maintained that his client did not realise Esmerelda was a live animal at first.

He said: “She though it was a fake snake, but quickly became aware it was real after picking it up and hearing it hiss at her.

“She should have placed it on the ground but she threw the snake through the air.”

Defence agent Tony Burgess said Doherty had lost her job as a result of the incident and is now “struggling to find her way back into employment”.

He added: “She accepts that her behaviour was completely reprehensible.”

Mr Burgess said the snake may have suffered some of her injuries when she escaped from her home and fell “from quite high up” on the multi-storey block.

Sheriff Aitken said he had “limited sympathy” for the teenagers, whose troubles he said were “nobody’s fault but their own”.

He added: “I hope it was drunken stupidity that led to this, rather than an underlying defect in your character. People do not like those who abuse animals.”

The Scottish SPCA welcomed the sentencing of Kane and Doherty but expressed disappointment that no order was imposed preventing them from keeping pets.

Scottish SPCA chief inspector John Carle said: “Although we are pleased to hear this sentence has been passed down we are disappointed a ban was not also imposed.

“Doherty and Kane caused cruel and unnecessary suffering to Esmerelda the snake.

“Treating any animal this way is despicable behaviour and the injuries caused ultimately contributed to the death of the poor snake.”

Sentencing: Kane was ordered to perform 80 hours of unpaid work in the next six months, and Doherty 120 hours. No ban on keeping animals was imposed on either of them.

Press & Journal