Category Archives: Unsolved

Why was no one ever prosecuted for the arson attack on Manchester Dogs’ Home?

At around 7:10 pm on Thursday 11 September 2014  residents of  Harpurhey, an inner-city area of Manchester, heard unusually loud and frantic barking from Manchester Dogs’ Home  on  Moss Brook Road. The commotion was the first indication of an arson attack on a dog rehoming centre that in the coming hours would leave a third of the facility destroyed and 60 dogs dead.

First on the scene on the night of the tragedy was Colin Ballance, a key holder who had volunteered at the charity for 25 years. Colin told the Manchester Evening News how he battled through choking black smoke to reach trapped dogs inside the burning home.  He remembered dragging two cross-breed dogs to safety, but said there was little anyone could do to save those that perished.

Other heroes of the hour were Jason Dyer, son Danny Vere, and Dean Rostock who jumped over the fence and kicked open kennel doors after hearing dogs barking in panic. Between them the trio were said to have rescued around 20 dogs.

Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue reported that they had brought the fire under control within an hour but confirmed that a large area housing occupied kennels had been completely destroyed.

There were  150 canine survivors in total, all of whom were taken that same evening to the charity’s sister site at Cheshire Dogs’ Home. Many of the dogs rescued were suffering from smoke inhalation and required medical treatment.

As drone footage taken the next day revealed the extent of the damage to the home, hundreds of  local well-wishers rallied round to provide food, dog bowls, bedding and blankets.

Photo shows the devastating impact of the fire on the dogs' home
Photo shows the devastating impact of the fire on the dogs’ home

The charity was also inundated with calls from animal lovers offering homes to the surviving dogs.

The Manchester Evening News (MEN) launched a Just Giving page, which would eventually raise almost £2 million.  Animal-loving celebrities including TV personalities Simon Cowell and Ricky Gervais and footballer Mario Balotelli made generous donations.

The suspects

Public grief and shock quickly turned to outrage, however, after the MEN reported that a 15-year-old youth had been arrested within an hour of the emergency services being called to the fire, following a tip-off from a member of the public. They added that the youth had required hospital treatment after the arson attack. Police released a statement confirming that a 15-year-old boy had been arrested and bailed pending further enquiries.

On 12/09/2014 the MEN then reported that the boy arrested had recently been attacked by a dog.   On 13/09/2014 the Daily Mail went a step further and published this picture of the youth outside the local police station.

Youth arrested on suspicion of burning down Manchester Dogs Home
Daily Mail 13/09/2014

A few hours later they updated their article replacing the image of the youth with this one:

Youth arrested on suspicion of burning down Manchester Dogs' Home - later edition of Daily Mail
Notice that they have increased pixellation to the boy’s face and photoshopped out his T-shirt design and, most importantly, scarring on his left arm.

Desperate to find out the youth’s identity, social media users turned detective and uncovered an article published on 10/01/2014 by both the MEN and national newspaper the Mirror about a 14-year-old Harpurhey youth  whom they said “could have had his arm ripped off … when a Rhodesian Ridgeback went berserk in the street”. That youth’s name was Kayne Kennedy  and these are the photographs that were published with the article:Kayne Kennedy pictured in hospital after dog attack

Kayne Kennedy's arm injury after he was bitten by a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Both newspapers have since removed their articles on the dog attack (presumably in response to Kennedy being widely named on social media), but you can still view the MEN’s Facebook post here and their original article has been reproduced here.

The Mail said that the suspect was “one of a handful police suspect may have played a role in the fire”. They said that senior police officers had instigated a ‘safeguarding plan’ for the “families of the suspect and other boys who are being questioned about the fire”.

Kennedy’s personal information was all over social media, particularly Twitter where #KayneKennedy was a trending hashtag throughout the weekend. His name, address, photographs and even details of his family, including his mother’s workplace, were all tweeted and retweeted and shared on Facebook.

#kaynekennedy Twitter hashtag#kaynekennedy Twitter hashtag

 

#kaynekennedy Twitter hashtag

#kaynekennedy Twitter hashtagKennedy’s friends and family threw a protective ring around him, apparently refusing to believe that he could’ve been involved in such an evil and malicious act.  His mother, Maxine Kennedy, was reported as remaining defiant in the face of the multiple death threats against her son, insisting the allegations were a “pack of lies”.

She said: “They have said that he has had to move away, that the police told him to go away for his own safety but as you can see he is still here. I don’t care what people are saying about threats.

“I am still here and I’m not leaving. I don’t want to talk about it because people will twist everything we say.”

Other names mentioned on social media in connection with the arson attack were local hoodlums Kaylum Davies, Declan Delaney, Elliott Parker, Andy Sloan and, most significantly, Peter Wilson. Wilson’s name began to feature prominently on social media, with some users saying he had “confessed” to setting the fire and that he and his family had fled the area. Others said that Kennedy had been cleared of any involvement in the fire following Wilson’s “confession”.

 

Peter Wilson social media

Peter Wilson social media

Peter Wilson social media
Peter Wilson social media

The following are allegations based on the testimony of local people and must not be taken as statements of fact.

It was said that Wilson, full name Peter Beckham Wilson, born 27/06/2000 of Ringley Street, Harpurhey, had been at the dogs’ home on the evening of the fire with his estranged father, an alleged drug addict also called Peter Wilson. Wilson senior had apparently been stealing  lead from the roof of the dogs’ home throughout the week and on the evening of the fire his son had been setting fires to amuse himself while his father went about his thieving.  One of the fires took hold and quickly spread to the kennels area which being somewhat ramshackle and constructed of timber burned ferociously.

It was also said that prior to starting the fire Wilson junior had been inside the dogs’ home in the kennels area and had been goading the dogs. One of the dogs had bitten him causing an injury for which he later needed treatment in hospital. One theory is that he started the fire  as an act of revenge against the dog that bit him.

Another version of events is that Wilson started the fire accidentally by dropping a lit cigarette in the bedding supplies area.

Accident or not, he and any others at the scene made no attempt to raise the alarm. If he had then the needless death of dozens of helpless dogs could’ve been avoided.

There was a suggestion that Wilson had been accompanied by other youths at the time, one of whom was named as Kayne Kennedy, although this is contradicted by others who said that Kennedy was caught on CCTV elsewhere at the time the fire started.

What is known is that Wilson’s family – mother Diane Edwards and his various brothers and sisters – fled their home on the evening of the fire and were moved by the council into emergency accommodation. They have never returned to Harpurhey.

Kayne Kennedy and his family, on the other hand, remained in their home in Belsyde Walk until January 2018.

In December 2014 it was reported that no charges were to be brought against two youths – a 15-year-old [Kayne Kennedy] and a 17-year-old [whose name we have not disclosed as he was cleared of all involvement] – arrested in connection with the fire. No mention has ever been made in the press of a third youth, 14-year-old Peter Wilson, who has only ever been ‘outed’ locally in the community or on social media.

The police reported at the time that their enquiries would continue but that they were not currently looking for anyone else. They admitted that their investigation had reached “a dead end”.

Local councillor Pat Karney urged Greater Manchester Police not to let their investigation ‘lie on the shelf’.

Sadly, that is precisely what has happened. No justice for the 60 precious souls that lost their lives on 11 September 2014.

2018 update on our two suspects

Last month we published this photo composite to our Facebook page and asked the good people of Harpurhey to contact us with any information that might help bring about justice for the victims of the Manchester Dogs’ Home arson attack. We pixellated out the youths’ faces and used only initials for their names but warned that there would be no further concealment of their identities. Kayne Kennedy turned 18 on 3 September 2017 and Peter Wilson celebrated his 18th birthday in June of this year.

Manchester Dogs Home suspects and victims composite

Here is what we have been told. Again these are not statements of fact.

A friend of Kayne Kennedy’s told us that he and the 17-year-old youth were cleared of any involvement in the fire, having been captured on CCTV at Asda at the time of the fire.

Map shows proximity of Asda to the dogs’ home

Kennedy now lives in Oldham but he and his family only moved from  Harpurhey in January 2018.  We are told that the local community knew that he was innocent, so there was no need for him and his family to be rehoused.

Peter Wilson, on the other hand, moved out of Harpurhey with his family just after the fire. They initially moved to Heywood in Rochdale and since September 2016 have been at XX Smalley Street,  Castleton, Rochdale OL11 3EB.

Wilson is active on social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, where he accompanies endless selfies with rap lyrics.

Alleged Manchester Dogs Home arsonist Peter Wilson, now of Castleton, Rochdale

Alleged Manchester Dogs Home arsonist Peter Wilson, now of Castleton, Rochdale

Until recently he was tearing around the streets of Castleton in a grey BMW. This car was recently impounded by Greater Manchester Police:

Peter Wilson car impounded

He is now driving a blue Jaguar with a ’51’ number-plate.

So what now?

We contacted Greater Manchester Police via Facebook and while they told us their investigation remains open, advised to submit a Freedom of Information request to the Chief Constable. We have done this.

We hoped for a little support from Harpurhey councillor Pat Karney but his response to our email was disappointingly brief:

“Thanks. Not heard anything You will have to contact the Chief Constable.”

Well that is what we have done, Councillor Karney, though we think your attitude quite shameful in light of the bluster you made about seeing the culprits brought to justice.

We are also looking into requesting a copy of the fire investigation report from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue.

We also wonder whether the fire could have been prevented had there been  better security at the dogs’ home which had been the subject of repeated attempted break-ins and acts of vandalism. See this interview with the manager at the time of the fire, Lisa Graham;

On the subject of management at the home, this blog post from German Shepherd Dog Rescue makes interesting reading.  A key question relates to whether there were any staff present on the site on the evening of the fire.

More updates to follow just as soon as we get them.

If you have any information about the arson attack on the Manchester Dogs’ Home, we would very much like to hear from you. All responses will be treated in confidence – we never disclose a source.

Allegations of endemic animal cruelty on a Bagillt smallholding

Earlier this month a 47yo smallholder named Jane V Edwards (née Caunce) of Riverbank, Bagillt, Flintshire was banned from keeping any animals except dogs and cats for two years after two sheep and a Shetland pony were found dead in a snowbound field off Picton Lane in Penyffordd, near Holywell.

After sharing our earlier post about this case to our Facebook page, we were inundated with messages from local animal lovers all too familiar with the cruelty of Jane Edwards and, allegedly, her wider family – husband John Edwards, daughter Emma Edwards and sons John Edwards jr and Aaron Caunce (the latter from a previous relationship) and  various minors that we can’t yet name due to their age.

We heard that animals from sheep, pigs and goats through to dogs, cats, horses and rabbits were living a hellish existence on the squalid smallholding run by the Edwards.

Locals supplied us with video and photographic evidence purporting to show conditions at the farm. One video showed a thin-looking goat quite clearly in pain with a badly injured rear leg, which our contact said had been untreated for some time.

We were sent dozens of photographs taken at Edwards’ smallholding showing dead sheep decomposing in a muddy field, depressed-looking pigs living in filth and ravenous semi-feral cats and kittens desperately seeking shelter from the elements. A neighbour of the Edwards family told me she has been feeding the animals herself in a desperate bid to keep them alive until the RSPCA get their finger out and remove them from a clearly harmful situation.

Dead sheep on Jane Edwards' Bagillt smallhold

Scenes from Jane Edwards Bagillt smallholding

One particularly horrifying photograph we were sent showed a dead fox entangled in a wire fence.  A tragic accident, you’d have thought. But closer examination shows that the fox’s rear legs have been tethered to the fence with string. In other words, he’d been deliberately tied up, unable to escape and would have died  an agonising death.  Again we understand this took place on the Edwards’ land and, if the allegations are true, would make any right-thinking person extremely concerned about the type of people we are dealing with here.

Decomposing fox on Jane Edwards' land

All available evidence points to the Edwards’ smallholding being a scene of chaos and horror, a veritable hellhole where multiple species of animals co-exist amidst ramshackle, make-shift buildings, squalor, death and decay. The people meant to be caring for these helpless creatures instead show utter contempt for their welfare.

Photographs of Jane Edwards' Bagillt smallholding

But surely following the RSPCA’s successful prosecution of Jane Edwards, many if not all of the animals (dogs and cats were excluded from the ban, remember) would be removed to safety? Apparently not. Shockingly, it is perfectly legal for Edwards to transfer ‘ownership’ of them to her husband, who, if accounts from several different sources are to be believed, is every bit as twisted as his wife.

And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say.

We saw footage of one son, John Edwards Jr – a big lad, obese actually –  who was trying to mount a small unsaddled pony while being goaded by his mother and other family members, who seemed to find the pony’s obvious terror hilarious.

One contact told us how they had witnessed another son, Aaron Caunce, rip the heads of live pet rabbits just for fun and that he went on to boast about it, leading him to being barred from his local pub.

Worse was to follow with the video footage below, taken last weekend at the Edward’s smallholding, showing a weak, emaciated collie-type dog named Jessie pacing despondently back and forth in a state of obvious distress. The local who captured the footage contacted the RSPCA who failed to attend despite her pleas for assistance. In desperation the local uploaded the video to her Facebook profile and it soon went viral.

The local said she knocked on the Edwards’ door and offered Jane Edwards £100 for Jessie but was knocked back. She added that a local animal activist then upped the offer to £200 for the dog but she too was told no.

Later that evening Jane Edwards was apparently seen carrying Jessie’s lifeless body across the yard. When challenged, she said that the dog had died. She said that she hit her with a hammer and that she (Jessie) was bleeding from the eyes. This account is unconfirmed but, if true, then Jane Edwards needs to be arrested and charged without delay.

The local told me that one of Edwards’ children – a 12yo girl – seemed unfazed that a family dog had met such a brutal end and simply said: “She was no good anyway”.

Jessie’s body has apparently been buried and the Edwards are point-blank refusing to say where.

The Facebook group Justice for Jessie has been set up to monitor developments and is campaigning hard for the Edwards family to be prosecuted for animal cruelty and disqualified for life from keeping animals. All of them.

We are happy to support this group’s campaign to bring this bunch of mentally deficient hillbillies to justice and help prevent any more animals coming to harm at their hands.   
Edwards family
Links:
York Press
Daily Post
Justice for Jessie FB group

The strange case of Kayleigh McAllister and a St Bernard puppy starved to death

Kayleigh McAllister and her St Bernard dog Luna
McAllister and Luna, the St Bernard whose death by starvation remains unsolved and unpunished.

In  November 2015 the Scottish SPCA‘s case against Kayleigh McAllister of Livingston, West Lothian, for starving to death her one-year-old St Bernard named Luna was dropped because of a legal technicality.

The Sheriff accepted the defence’s submission that the Crown had failed to prove that McAllister was the sole tenant or occupier of the house where the dog was found and therefore the only person legally responsible for her welfare.

The then 28-year-old McAllister, who works as a sales executive, claimed that she had entrusted Luna’s care to a ‘friend’ and it was this ‘friend’ that had left her pet to slowly starve to death in her own filth. McAllister said she was living elsewhere at the time.

Police who searched McAllister’s home in Letham Crescent, Pumpherston, found Luna’s body lying in the kitchen. The kitchen floor was covered in clumps of dog hair and dog faeces, which appeared to be weeks old.

They called in the Scottish SPCA to remove the body from the house.

Senior Scottish SPCA inspector Stuart Murray said he put the dog’s body in a bag to take it for a post-mortem examination.

He said: “I could pick it up quite easily with one hand. Given the breed, I shouldn’t have been able to do that.

“That would definitely have been a two-man lift if it was in good condition. I could basically pick it up with two fingers.”

Mr Murray said he interviewed McAllister who admitted that she was Luna’s owner and was responsible for caring for her.

She told him she had been called by her friend on August 25, 2013 and told her dog was “not that good”.

She told him she went home and sat with the dog “trying to get her to eat and drink”.

She added: “In the early hours she stopped breathing and I had to phone the vets.”

But despite evidence about the dog’s starving condition, McAllister was cleared of causing her pet unnecessary suffering by failing to provide her with adequate nutrition and veterinary care.

In tears outside court, she commented cryptically: “Somebody tried to ruin my life but they never got away with it.”

Original media: Edinburgh Evening News 27/11/15