#TheList Rebecca Dawn McHugh, born 08/11/1981 of Boulevard, Hull HU3 – left animals to starve to death in her abandoned pet shop
Rebecca ‘Becky’ McHugh has been disqualified from keeping caged exotics, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs and caged birds for life, after a prosecution case brought by the RSPCA.
In January 2018, McHugh was convicted in her absence of four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
The RSPCA was called to Hull Pets and Garden on Beverley Road in June 2018, almost five months after the shop closed.
RSPCA inspector Jilly Dickinson said: “The shop closed down in January, and I attended in June after energy suppliers entered to switch off the supply and found the exotics – it appears they had simply been left behind after the shutters had gone down for the final time.
“Five animals were alive, but only three of these – a corn snake and two bearded dragons – survived.
“The bearded dragons were underweight, and one of them had a horrendous burden of mites, leaving them unable to open their eyes, lethargic, anaemic and dehydrated.
“There was an underweight leopard gecko with long standing metabolic bone disease and subsequent current and historic fractures, and eye problems which were untreatable – meaning that they unfortunately had to be put to sleep.
“A Tegu lizard was described by the vet as being in the worst condition he had ever seen – completely emaciated, dehydrated and lethargic. The Tegu unfortunately didn’t pull through and died not long after coming into our care.”
The surviving animals were signed over to the RSPCA and have now been rehomed.
Sentencing: two-year community order including 250 hours of unpaid work; total of £385 costs and charges. Disqualified for life from keeping caged exotics, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs and caged birds.
#TheList Mia Beth Connor, born 21/12/97, formerly of Rockhampton Avenue, East Kilbride, and now of Greenfaulds Crescent, Cumbernauld G67 2PJ – for shocking neglect of cats, dogs and lizards
An investigation by the Scottish SPCA found that single mother-of-one Mia Connor had kept her animals in atrocious conditions and deprived them of food and water.
By the time the SSPCA attended Connor’s then property in Westwood, East Kilbride, a bearded dragon and gecko had already died a slow and miserable death. Their decomposed and dessicated bodies were found in an unlit and unheated vivarium. A surviving dragon named Cheech was found to be suffering severe dehydration and hypothermia.
Connor had failed to feed other pets properly, including cats Nemo and MJ, a collie named Luka and a Presa Canario cross called Hulk. Luka especially was very underweight
SSPCA inspector Jack Marshall described being met with “an overpowering smell of faeces and urine” as he entered Connor’s property which was strewn with rubbish and faeces.
Inspector Marshall continued: “Hulk was contained in a bedroom upstairs and when I entered, he was desperate to get out of the room. He was also in a very lean body condition. This room had an overwhelming stench of excrement and urine.
“The animals were transported immediately to the vet and upon examination all were found to be emaciated and dehydrated. Both dogs were given a body score of 2/5. Hulk had a very marked and generalised skin disease which appeared to have had very little treatment. Luka’s coat was in very poor condition and smelled strongly of urine.
“Both cats had evidence of flea infestation.
“Veterinary examination found this to be marked neglect over an extended period of time, for all of the animals, comprising deprivation of the most basic requirements for life, namely food and water. The timescale involved can’t be given precisely but would be expected to be over several weeks.
“Failing to provide for these animals clearly resulted in an unacceptable degree of unnecessary suffering and stress to all the animals involved.”
Connor pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animals but was let off with a paltry fine and a five-year ban on keeping animals.
Sentencing: £600 fine. Banned from keeping animals for just five years.
#TheList Jordan McIsaac, born c. 1999, of Temple View, Banff AB45 1HG, and Daniel Innes, born c. 1997, of Brands Butt, Inverurie AB51 – killed two geckos during a house party
Daniel Innes wrecked a house in Aberchirder during a drink-fuelled rampage, causing £5,000 worth of damage, before he and pal Jordan McIsaac killed two geckos.
One of the animals was dropped on the floor, where it died, and the other was blitzed in a blender.
Innes and McIsaac used a mobile phone belonging to the householder’s teenage son to film the crime as he slept.
Sheriff Philip Mann had previously deferred sentence on the pair to give them a chance to show they were sorry, and suggested they spend time volunteering with animal charities.
But with no organisation willing to take the pair on, they returned to court and Sheriff Mann remanded them after ruling they had failing to show enough remorse.
The geckos’ owner Amanda Bibby welcomed the sentence – but said it should have been a lifetime ban.
During an earlier calling of the case, Sheriff Mann described the crime as “chillingly evil” and one of the most difficult he had ever dealth with in his career.
However, he acknowledged the friends had suffered as a result of the media attention surrounding the case – with both claiming they have been assaulted.
He told them: “You’re still young men, you’ll still be able to make a proper and productive life for yourself.
“I hope you’ll use the period in custody to good effect.
“I think you’ll find there are opportunities there.”
McIsaac was also sentenced to two months’ detention for his part in a violent assault in 2016.
His solicitor Leonard Burkinshaw had urged Sheriff Mann to be lenient in his sentence, and told the court the teen had sold his Xbox and weights bench to provide his mum with money to make donations of £50 to the Scottish SPCA and £80 to the Cats Protection charity
He had also applied to start college and had dreams of becoming a fisherman.
Mr Burkinshaw added: “He deeply regrets being involved in this and the trauma that has been caused.
“He is entirely remorseful for his behaviour that night and he is trying to get things back on track.
“Certainly, he has learned his lesson.”
Solicitor Margaret Nash yesterday revealed her client Innes, of Brands Butt in Inverurie, had written a letter of apology to gecko owner Amanda Bibby but said she had not passed it on because “things are a bit raw”.
Last night, Ms Bibby said she was surprised the pair had been locked up, but welcomed the decision.
“Hopefully it will set a precedent for other animal cases,” she added.
“I think you should be banned from keeping animals for life if you can kill.
“But it’s a lot more than what I thought they would get.
“I hope it’s a lesson learned for them.”
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: “These thugs appear to have shown no remorse whatsoever for their actions and I think most people would agree this crime justifies a custodial sentence.
“It beggars belief that anyone would consider that this was acceptable behaviour. The fact that this stomach-churning offence was filmed using the teenage son’s own mobile phone makes it even worse.
“This pair will at least now have some time to think about their actions, and the awful impact that this horrible stunt will have had on the family involved.”
Sentencing: Innes was given a 36-week sentence for the animal cruelty offence at Banff sheriff court, with McIsaac receiving 33 weeks. They were also disqualified indefinitely from keeping animals.