Category Archives: snakes

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.

Sentencing:
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

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.

WalesOnline

East 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.

HullLive

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

Kingston Upon Hull: Rebecca McHugh

#TheList Rebecca Dawn McHugh, born 08/11/1981 of Boulevard, Hull HU3 – left animals to starve to death in her abandoned pet shop

Former pet shop owner Rebecca McHugh abandoned bearded dragons, a corn snake, a leopard gecko and a Tegu Lizard when she closed the business. Only three of the animals left behind survived the ordeal.
Former pet shop owner Rebecca McHugh abandoned bearded dragons, a corn snake, a leopard gecko and a Tegu Lizard when she closed the business. Only three of the animals left behind survived the ordeal.

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.

RSPCA News
Hull Daily Mail

Meir, Stoke-on-Trent: Natalie Keenan and David Knight

#TheList Natalie Keenan, born c. 1989, and David Knight, born c. 1977, both of Sandon Old Road, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 – kept 23 pets – including a barn owl, a fox and a raccoon dog – inside a smelly and flea-ridden house of horrors

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

David Knight pleaded guilty to five charges related to animal cruelty, while Natalie Keenan admitted four offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The pair’s mini-zoo was discovered by chance when a utility company official went round to the Meir home to execute a warrant as they hadn’t paid their gas bill.

He alerted the RSPCA, who were confronted by the stench of neglect, with piles of dog poo in the kitchen, rotting chickens in a snake tank and animals covered in fleas.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

Other creatures – from pets to exotics to wild animals – were being kept in tiny filthy cages, with barely enough room to move and without ready access to water.

A raccoon dog kept in a foul cage by Natalie Keenan and David Knight from Meir, Stoke

One terrier-type dog, called Lexi, was in such a poor condition that she had to be put to sleep.

Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Lexi was experiencing ‘significant suffering’. She was virtually blind, emaciated with protruding bones, had little fur and an infected tumour that was hidden underneath a ‘foul-smelling mess’.

The dog was found curled up on a pile of dirty nappies and had to be carried out of the house as she couldn’t walk.

The couple also had:

  • another dog, Mocha the French bulldog
  • a cat called Gizzy, who both had skin and flea problems;
  • a barn owl caged up in a bedroom
  • a fox living in a cage in another room;
  • a racoon dog
  • a rat
  • a bearded dragon
  • five snakes
  • eight degus;
  • and an African grey parrot called Charlie.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors
Lexi was in such poor condition she had to be put to sleep

RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “When I arrived at the property the couple wouldn’t let me inside so I waited outside for over two hours until police arrived.

“During that time the family carried bin bag after bin bag of rubbish out of the house.

“When I finally went inside it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Even though they’d been clearing out for two hours it was still absolutely filthy and the animals were being kept in horrifying conditions.

“There was cage after cage and animal after animal. The rooms were strewn with rubbish, all of the animals’ accommodation was filthy and their welfare needs were clearly not being met.

“It was disgusting and it was mass-scale neglect.”

The other animals remain in RSPCA care and can now be rehomed or moved to suitable keepers.

“Many of these animals simply shouldn’t be kept as pets let alone kept like this,” Inspector Melvin added.

“To see these poor animals living in such squalor was heartbreaking. I’m just glad they can all now have a second chance at find loving new homes where their needs will be properly catered to.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order including a 30-hour rehabilitation requirement. Total of £235 each in costs and charges.  Both were disqualified from keeping animals for three years.

Stoke Sentinel
Signal1

Yate, Gloucestershire: Stephen D Bowes

#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.

Bristol Live