#TheList Steven Riddell, born 22/09/1971, of 38 Park Green, Erskine PA8 7HJ – kept mice, rats and rabbits in appalling conditions to feed to his pet snakes
Animal cruelty inspectors found 130 creatures, including mice, rats and rabbits, kept in filthy conditions by father-of-four Steven Riddell.
Riddell used his greenhouse to breed the rodents as “live” food for the 50 snakes which filled a room of his home.
A seasoned SSPCA inspector was sickened by what they found at Riddell’s mid-terraced house in Erskine, following a tip-off in April 2014.
It was stifling inside as a tarpaulin had been used to cover the virtual tomb in which the mice and rats were found, providing little ventilation or natural light to enter. Many were dead, dying, dehydrated, starving and stuck in their own faeces.
One of the inspectors could only remain inside for a brief moment as she had difficulty breathing.
One cage, which weighed 2kg (4lb) when clean and empty, was caked with a solid mass of droppings mixed with bedding that weighed almost 14kg (31lb).
Callous Riddell freely admitted he had seen the rodents as a cheap source of food for his prized snakes which, by comparison, appeared to be well cared for.
It was, said one of the investigators, “a night and day” situation.
Inside the greenhouse, rats and mice, some with young which were lying on top of faeces, and one half-entrapped in compacted droppings, were kept in squalor in cages stacked from floor to ceiling.
Two mice were alive but paralysed, while others were dead or dying.
In some of the cages, faeces and urine were found to be six to eight inches in depth.
The only traces of drinking water found was coated in green algae.
Some of the rats and mice were found to have bite and scratch marks and others had parts of their tails missing.
Many had respiratory problems and some were poking their noses out of gaps as they desperately tried to get a gasp of fresh air.
Rabbits, which were kept in similarly disgusting conditions in a nearby hutch, had been family pets.
They too, were found to be neglected and their coats were stained yellow from urine.
Riddell pleaded guilty to two contraventions of the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate care, nutrition, water and clean bedding
When quizzed by officers, unemployed Riddell accepted the conditions were disgusting and unacceptable but maintained he had “taken his eye off the ball” due to a series of family problems.
He said he knew that some of them were in poor health but hadn’t sought veterinary attention as they were “only food for my reptiles”.
A senior SSPCA inspector later said that in all of her many years of service, she had never seen animals being kept in such atrocious conditions.
She said she had felt disgusted to think that Riddell “saw them as nothing more than a cheap food source for his reptiles”, which appeared to be well cared for inside his house.
It was stated that Riddell had agreed to hand over ownership of all of the animals, many of which were put down, although some were nursed back to good health and re-homed.
Sentencing: jailed for 150 days and banned indefinitely from keeping animals except for the family dog.
#TheList producers of pornographic animal torture videos: Craig John Chapman, born 03/02/1975, of Cresswell Road, Hilderstone, Stone ST15 8RF, Theraza Smallwood, born 10/10/1980, of Parkhead Drive, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 6EW, Christine Louise Besford (now Christine Miller), born 02/05/1976, of Doulton Court, Stoke-on-Trent ST2 7QY and Sarah-Jayne Cook, born 1980, and from Stoke-on-Trent (now Sarah-Jayne Porter of Alvechurch, Birmingham).
In the only case of its kind to ever be prosecuted in the UK courts Craig Chapman, Christine Besford, Sarah-Jayne Cook and Theraza Smallwood all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to publish obscene material after making videos of small animals being tortured and killed for the sexual gratification of paying customers, which included London publican Brian Patrick McCann. More on him later.
The animals tortured to death by the gang over a period of around a year included mice, rats, guinea pigs and a kitten.
All four also admitted separate charges relating to the cruelty and torture of small animals.
Peter Cooper, prosecuting, told Stoke on Trent Crown Court how Chapman had told someone he met over the internet that he could supply videos depicting scenes of animal torture.
Describing the horrific scenes on the tape Mr Cooper said: “Throughout the film there are scenes of small animals being stamped on with high heeled shoes.
“There is another scene of an overtly sexual nature involving Chapman and a mouse taped to a wooden board.”
The footage also included a scene in which an eight-week-old kitten was glued to the floor and killed by a woman (identified as Christine Besford) with her stiletto heels.
“The man behind the camera [Chapman] tells the girl [Besford] to stand on the kitten’s head. She did this, but not very well and her heel fell onto the kitten’s neck.
The kitten yelled in its incomparable distress…… the man behind the camera laughed”.
A former business associate of Chapman told us this (obviously treat as allegations for the time being):
Chapman had been going on a fetish chat room and putting it out there that he could make ‘custom made’ videos of animals being tortured to death and these bastards were e-mailing him with their fantasies and he along with the 3 other scumbags would get to work buying mice and guinea pigs from Pets at Home and other animals from a local yellow paper.
There was a scene in the seized video where Chapman lies on the floor naked with a plank of wood across him with a hole drilled in it for his privates to poke through, and a girl crushes a live mouse on it then smears its entrails on Chapman’s bits. Sick beyond belief.
They resin glued a 12 week old tabby kitten to a piece of wood and then tortured it to death. Chapman can be heard complaining on the tape “Oh no, there’s only 15 mins left on the tape, I was hoping to make a THIRTY MINUTE show of this…”
It turned out that Chapman had been using his secretarial recruitment agency to see if any pretty applicants were particularly hard up for money and were potential “video stars” for his grotty enterprise.
We also received the following contribution from a Facebook user with a long-standing interest in the case:
Chapter Four [of Terry Spamer’s book] – simply titled “Look Away Now” is all about how Chapman was caught. What a harrowing read. Just reading the description of the first scene – where they’ve gaffer taped mice to the clutch of a car was enough to give me a mild panic attack.
Safe to say that by the time we get to the part where Chapman has RESIN GLUED the tabby kitten’s right hind leg to the piece of hardboard, I was in tears.
The terrified kitten has tried to escape clockwise, anti clockwise and almost a full circle in its desperate attempts to escape, breaking its own leg in the process.
Chapman tells the “star” (Besford) to stand on the kitten’s head. She does but her foot slips off and crushes its spine. At this point Chapman LAUGHS.
Even after the kitten is dead, Besford, at Chapman’s request, stabs her high heel at the kitten’s head until it rolls completely off.
The guinea pig is hung by picture cord, being lifted off the floor by Smallwood before Chapman tells her not to do it so hard or else she’d strangle it and the video would end too early, as they need to torture the poor creature for as long as possible for more money.
She stabs it through its ribcage with her high heels then after 15 mins of this, she breaks its spine by standing on it full weight as it tries to run away mortally wounded.
That’s the running theme here – Chapman giving the “stars” the instructions on how to hurt the animals in the worst ways possible to achieve the most pain for the longest time for more money.
He tells the “star” at the beginning not to brake as hard, as he wants the mouse to last longer.
For his “friend” to testify that he was only motivated by money back then in order to do this , then consider the fact that he LAUGHS at the kittens’ agony when it yells in pain.
That to me sounds like enjoyment.
What people are not realising is that there weren’t just three scenes on the tape, there was TWENTY. TWENTY scenes of terrified animals being slaughtered under Craig John Chapman’s instruction in order for him to make money. He was selling clips for £200 a time so do the math. Apparently demand for new tapes was so great that he couldn’t keep up . Beyond sick. Beyond depraved.
Chapman paid Besford, Cook and Smallwood between £100 and £700 each for taking part in the torture.
The defendants got the mice and guinea pigs from a pet store and the kitten had been bought from an advert in a local newspaper.
An RSPCA report, read out in court, said the animals all died from multiple internal injuries caused by the torture and they had all suffered immense cruelty before they died.
Sentencing: Chapman was jailed for two years for conspiracy to publish the video and four months for cruelty to animals. Besford, Cook and Smallwood were each jailed for four months. All four were banned from keeping animals for life.
The Customer: Brian McCann
In November 2002 father-of-four Brian Patrick McCann, born 24/03/1955, then the owner of Rosie McCann’s bar in York Road, Islington, London, was jailed for his role in producing the twisted videos.
A police search of McCann’s computer revealed 40 files of “squish” or “crush” movies in which small animals such as kittens, guinea pigs, mice and even fish and earthworms were squashed to death, usually by a woman in high heels and wearing a short skirt.
McCann commissioned the video after contacting Chapman via a website specialising in such films.
McCann ordered the video over the internet and asked specifically for footage of a kitten being killed to be included.
Judge Nicholas Medowar QC said McCann had directly contributed to the production of at least one of the films, ordering specific scenes to be inserted to satisfy his own desires.
He said McCann had offered “excuses more than explanations” and appeared to be in denial about the gravity of what he had done, and imposed a jail term to be effective immediately.
RSPCA inspector Mr Simon Osborne, who witnessed scenes from the movies, said they were the most sickening he had seen in his six years as an animal protection officer.
“What was very distressing for me was not only watching these animals being trodden on … but it was the sounds of the animals screaming in pain, in obvious terrible agony,” he said.
Mr Osborne said the society was disappointed a tougher sentence had not been imposed and that animal cruelty had been dropped from the charge list.
Craig John Chapman is managing director of transport company Dulogis Group Ltd (known as UK Sameday before its rebranding in late 2018 – we hear he might be putting that into reverse now).
An article published in a trade magazine and the local paper told how Chapman started the business in 2003 after he was released from jail “left an office job” and built it up from one man with a van to a nationwide company.
Chapman was named Entrepeneur of the Year at the Stoke Sentinel Business Awards in March 2019 – quite astonishing when a simple Google search lays bare the grim details of his murky past (the case made all of the main online news sites, is mentioned in a Wikipedia entry on crush fetishes and even featured in a Channel 5 documentary on extreme porn).
Chapman lives in a large house in Stone with his partner and their toddler son.
Theraza Smallwood, who is shown on the video torturing a guinea pig, has three older children, all with different surnames, and is currently dating someone around half her age. We contacted Smallwood who told us she hadn’t spoken with Chapman for 17 years (strange that since they are first cousins and she even worked for him a while last year).
She couldn’t or wouldn’t identify Chapman from the photo we sent her. She told us that her participation in animal snuff videos was “a very long time ago and I’d like to keep it in the past”.
Christine Louise Besford now goes by her married name Miller. She runs a barber’s in Endon Road, Stoke.
Sarah-Jayne Cook is recently married and she and her husband have a young son. She goes by her married name Porter and lives in Alvechurch in Bromsgrove, Birmingham.