Category Archives: Traveller Animal Crimes

Bury, Greater Manchester: Kirsty Hamilton

#TheList Kirsty Hamilton, born c. 1984, of 15 Martin Street, Bury BL9 7SF – left an emaciated Arab mare with a severe hoof infection

Neglected Arab mare Blossom and her cruel former owner Kirsty Hamilton from Bury.
Neglected Arab mare Blossom and her cruel former owner Kirsty Hamilton from Bury.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to meet the needs of Arab mare Blossom, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The RSPCA was contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about Blossom, kept at stables at Nook Farm, Nook Lane, Tyldesely, Astley. On investigating, the mare’s bodyweight was rated one, the lowest on a scale of one to nine, and a vet found she had a bad case of thrush in all her hooves.

Inspector Danni Jennings, said: “The horse was clearly in an emaciated state and had other problems which had not been dealt with such as overgrown teeth.

“The infection in her hooves was awful and was caused by her standing in faeces in a dark and damp stable block for a long period of time.”

Kirsty Hamilton with boyfriend Joe Cannon. Cannon is from a notorious family of travellers.
Kirsty Hamilton with boyfriend Joe Cannon. Cannon is from a notorious family of travellers, who deal in horses and also raffle them on social media.

In mitigation the court heard that Hamilton had personal problems and was pregnant.

Blossom was taken for treatment and is now in the care of the charity.

Sentencing: 12-month community order; curfew order; total of £1,585 costs and charges. Banned from keeping equines for just one year.

Leigh Journal

Bridgwater, Somerset: Martin Veysey

#TheList Martin Veysey, born c. 1955, of 6 Albert Court, Albert Street, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 7ET – breached a previous life ban on keeping animals imposed on him in 2011

Veysey pleaded guilty to six charges under the Animal Welfare Act and the Cattle Identification Regulations on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at Taunton Crown Court.

Veysey was banned for life from keeping animals in 2011 after he was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide appropriate care for his animals.

The latest prosecution was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service and related to the purchase, transport and ownership of cattle obtained from markets in the South West.

Charges also related to a pony and an American bulldog owned by Veysey.

Veysey was also found guilty for failing to report and record the movements of cattle and failing to surrender the passports of cattle to Defra’s British Cattle Movement Service.

The court heard that the prosecution followed an investigation by Trading Standards officers.

Officers gathered intelligence from several sources including from members of the public, who responded to adverts he had placed to sell animals, as well as the RSPCA, livestock auctioneers and landowners who had witnessed his involvement with animals.

In sentencing Veysey, the judge told him that ‘the legislation is intended to protect animals from cowboys like you’ and warned him any further breaches would mean that he would go to prison.

Sentencing: eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years. Costs of £2,115.

BridgwaterMercury

Skipton, North Yorkshire: James Featon

#TheList puppy dealer James Featon, born c. 1968, of Roughaw Road, Skipton BD23 – kept 23 dogs in poor conditions at a Selby pig farm

Puppy dealer James Featon and some of the puppies rescued from the pig farm where he kept them.

Gypsy traveller Featon pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to dogs after two adult dogs and 21 puppies were found in “disgusting conditions” in pig pens on a farm in North Duffield, near Selby.

Photo of cruel puppy dealer James Featon
Cruel puppy dealer James Featon.

RSPCA officers and North Yorkshire Police visited the farm on 7 October 2017 where the dogs were found living in pig pens.

Cruel puppy dealer James Featon also enjoys hunting with dogs. Photo shows him with a dog and dead rabbit.
When not exploiting dogs for money, James Featon enjoys persecuting wildlife.

The animals were taken into immediate veterinary care. Sadly, only 18 of the dogs survived.

RSPCA Inspector Alice Cooper, who led the investigation, said:

“Some of the puppies were in very poor condition; thin and lethargic with swollen, distended abdomens.

“Three Jack Russell terrier puppies had collapsed.

“Police seized all of the dogs and we rushed them to the vets where a number of the pups were diagnosed with parvovirus – a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.

“They were all hospitalised and needed intensive veterinary treatment but, unfortunately, we lost four because they were so incredibly poorly.”

Eighteen dogs – including spaniels, lurchers and crossbreeds – pulled through and were taken in by RSPCA centres while the investigation was ongoing.

Adult dog found at James Featon's puppy farm
Adult dog found at James Featon's puppy farm

Inspector Cooper added: “Our investigations established that Mr Featon was buying in dogs from Ireland and elsewhere in England, and then selling them on to the public.

“However, he was keeping the dogs in disgusting conditions and had categorically failed to provide veterinary care to those that had fallen ill.”

PC Sarah Ward of North Yorkshire Police said: “I’m very pleased with the result and thankful that we found the puppies when we did, saving them from more suffering.

“They were kept in cold, damp conditions without their mums and most of them were very ill with a number needing urgent veterinary attention.

“Sadly, some did not make it.

“We urge members of the public to only ever buy puppies from reputable dog breeders or adopt a rescue dog from a known charity.”

The dogs – which have all been in RSPCA care during the investigation – were signed over this week and can now be rehomed.
They will be available after Christmas.

Inspector Cooper added: “Unfortunately this sort of thing is something we see all too often at the RSPCA.

“Breeding and selling puppies is big business and with certain breeds selling for hundreds if not thousands of pounds there are a lot of people trying to cash in.

“Sadly, some sellers like Mr Featon will put profits ahead of the health and welfare of the dogs.

“This is completely unacceptable.

Sentencing: total of £460 in fines, costs and charges. Disqualified from dealing in dogs, meaning he can own dogs as pets but isn’t to be involved in commercial activity involving dogs.

StrayFM
Northern Echo

East of England: Stolen puppies found during police investigation into activities of a prolific traveller crime gang

Mugshots of nine members of the brazen burglary gang, all of whom come from the traveller community

Nine members of a violent gang of travellers, who committed more than 200 burglaries in 11 months across multiple counties in the East of England region have been jailed for a total of 71 years. 

Gang members would mask their faces using balaclavas and smash or force open doors or windows in broad daylight.

They would don forensic suits in a bid to outwit police and were so prolific that in one day in July 2017 they committed seven burglaries, eight the next, and a total of 50 for the whole month. 

On one travellers’ site Cambridgeshire Constabulary found seven stolen Labrador puppies in the boot of a car as well as an arsenal of deadly weapons. 

Stolen dogs found during police raid on one travellers' site

Nine of the gang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary:

Charlie Albert Webb, 20, from Newton Flotman, Norfolk – jailed for five years.

John Eli Loveridge, 42, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk – jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

John Stanley Loveridge, 23, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk – jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Joseph Holmes, 21, of Schole Road, Willingham – jailed for four years.

Danny Stone-Parker, 28, of Braintree Road, Great Dunmow – jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Timothy Stone-Parker, 24, of Clay Way, Ely – jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Joe John Spencer Loveridge, 19, of Winchester Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire – jailed for four years.

Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk – jailed for five years.

Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk – jailed for five-and-a-half years.

A tenth man, Simon Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norwich, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle on 31 October following a trial. He was jailed for nine years.

Detective Inspector Craig Harrison, who led the investigation, said: “These sentences reflect the scale and impact of this gang’s offending.

“Every one of their crimes had a victim so the trauma and devastation caused in quite a short space of time was immense. They clearly had no care at all for the impact their offending was having on communities, particularly in south and east Cambridgeshire, which were particularly badly hit, and, indeed, across the region.”

The gang targeted homes in rural areas, where they could make easy getaways and stole high-performance vehicles to give themselves a better chance of out-running police.

Offences were committed across Cambridgeshire including Littleport, Wisbech, Fordham, Burwell, Prickwillow, Dullingham, Ely, Waterbeach, Soham, Abington, Cambridge, Chippenham, Little Shelford, Isleham, Sawston, Hardwick, Willingham, March, Histon, Swavesey, Longstanton, Little Downham, Stow cum Quay, Doddington, St Ives, Stretham, Chippenham, Balsham, Cottenham, Cheveley, Elsworth, Swaffham Bulbeck, Fulbourn, Newmarket, Teversham, Boxworth, Yaxley and Friday Bridge.

Two other men – James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, and his brother, Thomas Brown, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridge – were also found guilty of handling stolen goods on 31 October following a trial at Norwich Crown Court. The court heard the men were involved in the disposal of jewellery between 12 March and 7 November, 2017.

Pateman was jailed for three-and-a-half years and Brown eight years.

Simon Oakley, who owns Stratton Quick Fit, a garage and workshop at Elite Business Park, in Salamanca Road, Norwich, had previously admitted possession of a firearm without a certificate and handling stolen goods.

He provided false registration plates and directed others to commit crime. He helped to hide stolen vehicles and pass them off as legitimate.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Daily Mail

Rowan West travellers site, Darlington: William Henry Welch and William Chates

#TheList William (‘Billy’) Henry Welch, born c. 1989, and William Chates, born c. 1965, both of Rowan West caravan site, Levisham Lane, Darlington DL2 1QZ – for “horrific and abhorrent” cockfighting offences

Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights
Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights

North Yorkshire Police officers described footage of the cockfights, recorded on a mobile phone, as one of the worst examples of animal cruelty they had ever seen – and hailed the “landmark” custodial sentence.

On 13 January 2018, acting on an anonymous call to the police control room, officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce and the RSPCA attended premises at Skutterskelf, near Stokesley, North Yorkshire.

A number of men were located there. Officers searched buildings and vehicles, and seized a total of 27 live birds, some of which were bleeding from fresh cuts to the body and head. Inside a stable block, officers located bird feathers, and dried and fresh bloodstains on the floor and carpet.

During the enquiry, an examination was carried out on a mobile phone recovered from Welch, which revealed he was present at a number of other cockfights, on 19 December 2017 and 4 January 2018.

Investigators described the extremely graphic video footage on the phone as “sickening”.

The RSPCA provided expert evidence about the condition of the birds, and arranged for their safe storage and ongoing care.

Billy Welch pleaded guilty to charges of causing an animal fight to take place, keeping animals for fighting, and being present at an animal fight on three occasions in December 2017 and January 2018.

Travellers Billy Welsh (top left) and William Chates organised and participated in cruel cockfights
William Henry Welch

Jailing Welch, magistrates told him: “You put your own recreational needs before the welfare of your animals, in the most horrific and abhorrent circumstances.”

William Chates pleaded guilty to being present at an animal fight.

Two further defendants were found not guilty.

Sentencing:
Billy Welch was sentenced to 20 weeks in jail, disqualified from keeping all animals for 20 years, and ordered to pay a total of £2,000 costs.

William Chates was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work, disqualified from keeping all animals for 10 years, and ordered to pay £170 costs.

North Yorkshire Police
Northern Echo

Lymington, New Forest, Hampshire: Jason Cooper

#TheList Jason Cooper, aged 43, of Pound Road, Pennington, Lymington SO41 8EJ –  convicted of ill-treating a horse whom he had left tethered with awful hooves and teeth and an untreated lice condition

Gypsy traveller and horse abuser Jason Cooper from Lymington, Hampshire
Gypsy traveller Jason Cooper has a previous conviction for theft and deception

Gypsy traveller Cooper, who has a previous conviction for theft and deception involving a 92yo pensioner who died shortly after, caused ‘necessary suffering’ to a piebald filly named Tippee.

Horse abuser and gypsy lowlife Jason Cooper from Lymington, New Forest
Sorry, ladies – he’s spoken for.

The RSPCA were called by a member of the public and, assisted by World Horse Welfare, rescued the horse from a piece of land at Admiralty Way in Marchwood, Southampton.

Tippee – who was given her name by her rescuers because of the way she wobbled when she walked – was found in an emaciated condition, covered in lice, and tethered in an unsuitable environment.

The horse was taken into possession by police.

RSPCA inspector Tina Ward, who investigated for the animal welfare charity, said: “Tippee was being kept in inappropriate conditions and her basic needs were not being met.

“She was in poor bodily condition, her hooves and teeth were in an awful state, and she had an untreated lice infestation.

“Cooper had been the owner of Tippee for just five weeks and had already been told to remove her from the common by the Agisters because of her poor bodily condition

“The standard of care fell well below that of a reasonable owner.

“Cooper had a lifetime of experience of owning and keeping horses and should have known no horse should have been left to suffer in the way Tippee had been.”

“All horses need daily care and attention and especially those that are tethered. The practice of tethering horses, whilst far from ideal, is not illegal in this country, so owners who choose to keep their horses this way must go the extra mile to ensure all the horse’s welfare needs are being met.

“I am grateful to all the organisations who were involved in this case and did all they could to help give Tippee the second chance she deserves.”

Tippee has since recovered and will soon be looking for a new home.

Sentencing:
£180 with £250 costs. Banned from owning, keeping and dealing in equine animals for two years. 

Daily Echo

Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire: Jeremiah Smith and father Jason Smith

Jeremiah Smith, born July 1997, and his father Jason Smith, born ca 1972, both of 11 Burton Road, Branston, Burton On Trent, Staffordshire DE14 3DL for cruelty to rabbits, hens, owls and a kestrel

Animal abuser Jeremiah Smith from Burton on Trent
Gypsy Jeremiah Smith and two of his victims

Gypsies Jeremiah and Jason Smith were both prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The RSPCA found up to 70 animals at their address at 11 Burton Road including chickens, rabbits and birds of prey, the latter kept in cages for parrots and being fed unsuitable foods. Chickens were also not being treating for a mite infestation.

Smith senior pleaded guilty to charges of failing to prevent the causing of unnecessary suffering to animals between August 10 and 15, 2017.

This included failing to treat 17 chickens for a mite infestation and failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for 30 chickens. He also pleaded guilty for failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for three goldfinches.

His son Jeremiah Smith – father to 3yo triplets – pleaded guilty to four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals.

Irresponsible gypsy and animal abuser Jeremiah Smith bought and sold birds via social media
Irresponsible gypsy and animal abuser Jeremiah Smith bought and sold birds via social media

This included failing to meet the need for a suitable living environment for five rabbits, a kestrel, two barn owls and 12 pigeons as well as failing to meet their need of a suitable diet and constant water supply for the rabbits.

The RSPCA praised the court for their ruling and warned people not to keep animals they cannot look after.

Sentencing:
Jason Smith – total fines and charges of £1,055.
Jeremiah Smith – total fines and charges of  £1,455.Both were disqualified from keeping animals for two years.

Jason Smith’s lawyer said they would be appealing against the decision.

Southampton: Scott Bicknell and George Cole

#TheList Scott Maurice Bicknell, born 05/09/1976 of 13 Kiln Lane, Old Alresford, Alresford SO24, and gypsy traveller George Cole, born  03/07/1946 of Newdeeps Farm, Winchester Road, Upham, Southampton SO32 – for horrific separate acts of animal cruelty involving a rabbit and dog

Stills from video footage used in the RSPCA's prosecution against Scott Bicknell and George Cole
Stills from video footage used in the RSPCA’s prosecution against Scott Bicknell and George Cole

Bicknell and Cole pleaded guilty to one animal welfare offence each of causing unnecessary suffering in relation to two separate incidents.

RSPCA Chief Inspector (CI) Will Mitchell from the Special Operations Unit said: “A mobile phone was seized as part of separate police operation which led to evidence of animal welfare concerns being uncovered and prompted warrants at two addresses in Hampshire.

“On the phone – which belonged to another man who isn’t part of our investigations – we found videos and Whatsapp messages.

“One of these videos showed Mr Bicknell in his garden setting his dogs on a wild rabbit and encouraging them to kill it. It’s really horrific footage to watch.”

The RSPCA joined Hampshire Police Countrywatch Team to execute warrants at two addresses in April.

At the Upham property, officers found a female lurcher collapsed in a pile of hay in a barn.

CI Mitchell added: “The vet checked her immediately and she cried out in pain when he touched her.

“Her breathing was laboured and she was shaking. She was emaciated and weak.

“When officers helped her onto her feet they made a shocking discovery – a huge, ulcerated tumour under her abdomen.

“The vet said it had been there for months, possibly years.”

The dog was sadly put to sleep to end her suffering.

Sentencing:
Bicknell – 12-week prison term, suspended for two years; ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work’ total of £415 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping all animals for just two years (expires August 2020).

Cole – 12-week prison term, suspended for two years; total of £440 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping all animals for five years (expires August 2023).

Source: RSPCA press release 08/08/2018

 

Gravesend. Kent: Jon Dunn, Bridget Saunders and Ronnie Vine

#TheList for horrific horse neglect – career criminal Jonathan Levi Dunn (DoB 20/12/1983) and partner Bridget Linda Saunders (DoB 25/11/1986) both of the Denton gypsy traveller site at Dering Way, Gravesend DA12 and Ronnie Vine, aged 46, of Havengore Avenue, Gravesend DA12

Gypsy travellers and horse abusers Jon Dunn and Bridget Linda Saunders of Gravesend
The offences related to 13 horses which were part of a large group kept in appalling conditions in a field near Denton Caravan Site, Dering Way, Gravesend.

The horses were kept in a field which did not have enough grazing to sustain the numbers, and it was riddled with litter and hazards such as barbed wire, plastic bags and plastic netting.

The main water source was a dyke contaminated due to decaying horses’ remains and was green and full of rubbish.

The RSPCA had also discovered a large number of dead and rotting horse bodies littering the field.

There was a drain with the manhole cover removed, which led to a 6ft drop which the horses could have fallen into.

Speaking about the case RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon said: “Many of the horses taken were just youngsters and had probably only known a life of misery, sickness and riddled with worms, in a field far too small for them, with no grazing, and a lack of supplementary feed.

“It is such an awful shame that in this day and age, we are still seeing cases of animal cruelty of this scale.

“I was truly horrified at the sheer number of horses being kept in such terrible conditions in one small location, the horrors were clear for all to see – yet despite this the owners failed to make improvements for them.

“This is one of the largest number of horses that the RSPCA has taken into its care in the Kent area in recent years, and I am pleased to say that almost all of the horses are now doing exceptionally well.”

Sentencing:

Dunn – 26 weeks in prison; disqualified from keeping any equines for 10 years (expires July 2028).
Saunders – two-year conditional discharge; total costs and charges of £130; a mere three-year ban on keeping all horses (expires July 2021) .
Vine – total costs and charges of £1,430; banned from keeping any equines for just one year (expires July 2019).

Kent Online

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Our image shows Jonathan Levi Dunn and partner Bridget Linda Saunders. Dunn is from a notorious family of travellers based at Barnfield Park Caravan Site, Ash, Sevenoaks, Kent, who between them have multiple convictions for theft and driving offences, not to mention horse cruelty. In February 2017 three members of Jon Dunn’s family – brothers Harry and Matthew and  cousin Tommy Tucker Dunn – were also banned from keeping horses after they left sick animals in the same field as a rotting carcass and poisonous ragwort. See also here.

This conviction was preceded by a similar one in August 2012 when Tommy Dunn Senior and Tommy Dunn Junior were sentenced to pay £5000 in costs each and Shirley Dunn was ordered to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to horses and failing in their duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act.

Fordingbridge, Hampshire: William Sheen

#TheList William Gregory Michael Sheen, born c. 1997, of 24 Queens Gardens, Fordingbridge SP6 1QP, but said to be living in Marryat Road, New Milton, Hampshire – fired a catapult at swans and their cygnets before ‘choking’ his dog when she wouldn’t chase the birds

Police mugshot of animal abuser and general lowlife William Sheen from Fordingbridge, Hampshire
Police mugshot of animal abuser and general lowlife William Sheen from Fordingbridge, Hampshire

Career criminal Sheen, who has previous convictions for violence and burglary, attempted to harm the swans and their cygnets in Riverside Park, Fordingbridge on dates between July 5 and 8 2017.

One witness spotted him trying to force his dog into the water to chase the birds. When the dog didn’t give chase, Sheen dragged her into the air by her lead.

One of Will Sheen's dogs. It's not known if this is the dog involved in this incident.
One of Will Sheen’s dogs. It’s not known if this is the dog involved in this incident.

The dog was in a “distressed state” and “making choking noises”.

Sheen, who is believed to be part of the travelling community, was found guilty of three charges of attempting to injure wild birds and one of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog following a trial at Southampton Magistrates’ Court in April 2018.

Mark Gammon of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Sheen was seen by members of the public to be firing a catapult at some swans and cygnets on the River Avon before attempting to encourage his dog to enter the water to chase them.

“When the dog wouldn’t give chase, Sheen pulled it up by its lead so that it was hanging in the air, with its back legs kicking the water below.

“The dog was in a distressed state and making choking noises.

“Later that month, Sheen was again seen firing a catapult at swans on the river, before deliberately setting a dog on one of the swans.

“The dog chased the swan in the river and as it approached, the swan flapped its wings defensively.

“Along with eye witness accounts, a photograph was presented to the court in evidence of the swan with its wings spread out with the dog in the water approaching it.

“These were appalling attacks that caused much distress to the animals involved and the members of the public who witnessed them.

“This case serves as a warning to others that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated and anyone caught carrying out offences of this nature will be robustly prosecuted and punished.”

Sentencing: 260 hours of unpaid work within a year. Disqualified from owning or controlling any dog for two years (expires July 2020). Both of his dogs taken away from him. Banned from visiting Riverside Park or the river for 12 months.

Bournemouth Echo