#TheList Aaron Ray, born c. 2002, of 29 Mayfield Road, Sunderland SR4 0NE – stabbed a pet cockatiel to death in a fit of rage
Aaron Ray left the unnamed family pet with fatal injuries after plunging a knife into the back of her neck.
Northumbria Police officers found the deceased bird after being called to Ray’s home following reports of a disturbance. When questioned, Ray displayed an astonishing lack of remorse for his sickening cruelty, insisting “it’s just a bird”.
In court, Ray pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
PC Peter Baker, wildlife officer at Northumbria Police, said Ray’s conviction should act as a reminder that animal cruelty is a criminal offence.
He said: “Aaron Ray showed a total disregard for the welfare of this bird and inflicted catastrophic injuries that it could not survive from.
“This kind of behaviour is not only reckless and upsetting, but a criminal offence and that’s the lesson that Ray now must learn.
“We are a nation of animal lovers, so it is upsetting to come across incidents such as this where the defendant has caused inevitable and unnecessary suffering to an animal.”
Sentencing: 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year. 15-year ban from owning animals.
Lindi Meyer, prosecuting, said the defendant lived with Rocco and his partner Hilson. Both accepted responsibility for the pet.
The RSPCA and police went to the house on September 2, 2019, after reports of an injured dog. Initially the pair did not answer but Hilson let them in just as police were about to force entry.
The dog had obvious leg and head injuries, said the prosecutor.
Hilson said Rocco had hurt his leg trying to get over a gate almost a month before. She confirmed he had not seen a vet.
“There was a strong smell of ammonia and faeces on the floor,” added Ms Meyer.
A police officer said the injured state of the dog was ‘heartbreaking’ and he had never seen such a badly injured animal before.
Rocco had multiple cuts, dislocated femur, swelling, two large head wounds that were so severe vets were unable to examine his right eye, a fractured tooth, cheek, three fractured ribs, and a fracture to the right hock which was several weeks old and so severe the leg had to be amputated.
There were stains on the carpets which Hilson said Rocco had left after he injured his head trying to escape from his cage.
Dolling said the injury to Rocco’s leg happened about one and a half months before when he tried to jump over a door. Both denied mistreating him and Dolling said he didn’t take him for treatment because he thought the vet might think he had beaten him. He couldn’t explain the fracture to the dog’s eye and denied beating him. He said he thought the animal would die without vet attention.
Texts between the two revealed more of what really happened to the dog.
Hilson demanded to know what had happened to Rocco’s face. Dolling replied: “I just went mad on him earlier. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I’m f****d.”
Hilson said the dog was ‘only a baby’ and hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment.
Dolling answered: “You know what I get. I get what you’re saying. I’m sorry, I’m a nasty c**t.”
Hilson said there was a history of domestic violence in the relationship. Dolling now accepted responsibility for what he had done.
Nobody was present at the time Dolling injured the dog and the court was not told what triggered his violence. A vet found the injuries had been sustained by blunt force trauma on at least two occasions. They would have caused considerable pain for Rocco for at least six weeks. The skull fracture was caused by being struck with a ‘heavy linear object’ not consistent with Dolling’s explanation about the door. Injuries to the ribs were caused by kicks, stamps, or throwing against an object, said the vet.
Ms Meyer said Dolling’s actions had been ‘deliberate, gratuitous and caused suffering and pain on a number of occasions’. There had been prolonged neglect over months and no vet treatment despite both being aware of the injuries.
The court was played a video of Rocco in the care of the RSPCA, running and chasing a ball. “He’s doing really well,” after learning to walk again, said the prosecutor.
Hilson has yet to sign him over to the RSPCA’s care and has stated she wants him back.
Ben Darby, defending, said Dolling accepted full responsibility for the injuries and was ‘tearful’ and sorry for what he had done. He wanted help for his anger management issues and was motivated to change.
“These are pretty horrendous offences,” said Mr Darby. But he said Dolling had held his hands up and admitted his crime, even though nobody saw him cause the injuries and for that he should be given credit.
Hilson, who did not cause injuries to Rocco, admits a lesser charge under the Animal Welfare Act. She will be sentenced at a later date.
Sentencing: suspended four-month jail sentence. He was told to do up to 10 days anger management with probation and 60 hours of unpaid work. He was banned from keeping all animals for life but can appeal after just five years.
Natasha Rose Hilson, born 10/08/1994, also of 24A Briseham Road, Brixham, Torbay, Devon TQ5 9NS, has been sentenced for failing to seek veterinary care for Rocco while he was suffering from his injuries.
She must carry out 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and 240 hours’ unpaid work.
She was also disqualified from owning any animal for 15 years, with no application to lift this for five years, and must pay £200 costs.
#TheList badger baiter Conran Connor, born 01/12/1998, of 61 Gateside Road, Wishaw ML2 7SB – kept dogs for animal fighting
Conran Connor was sentenced to 21 weeks in prison and given a 15-year ban on owning and/or being in control of any animal after admitting to keeping and training his three dogs for animal fighting.
Connor was caught when a Patterdale terrier was discovered with horrific injuries consistent with being caused by badger baiting. The dog’s injuries were so severe that he had to be put down by vets.
Knives were then found in Connor’s home with badger blood and DNA during a Scottish SPCA investigation.
The probe revealed Connor had direct links to badger baiting.
He dug up badger setts in woodland in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, in preparation for illegal and bloody fights where the animals are set upon by dogs.
A Scottish SPCA undercover inspector said: “We became aware of Connor following an enquiry into an abandoned Patterdale terrier, found in the Carnwatch/Carluke area, which had injuries consistent with badger baiting and fighting.
“The dog had to be euthanised due to the extent of his injuries.
“Our investigation led to the home of Connor and with a warrant, we discovered evidence to suggest he was engaging in animal fighting.”
The inspector added: “We recovered proof that Connor had held conversations specific to purchasing dogs for, and discussing, animal fighting.
“Other items recovered from the house included numerous magazines and books relating specifically to hunting and fighting dogs with wild animals, hunting clothes, devices used to lure foxes called fox callers, a torch identical to one found during the excavation of a badger sett and knives, many of which were subsequently found to have badger blood and DNA.
“We were able to gather the DNA evidence thanks to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).
“Multiple items found matched those in Connor’s possession of him posing with dead wild animals and his three dogs”.
The SIU inspector added: “Other images confirmed his presence at badger baiting sites and showed his own dogs at the entrance to a badger sett.
“There were also men digging into the ground at night in woodland. This is an activity carried out as part of the badger baiting process. Other pictures include a dog with injuries consistent with badger fighting.
“We welcome the sentence handed down to Connor. He engaged in depraved acts that showed his complete disregard for animal welfare.
“He caused extreme levels of suffering to the wild animals involved and put his three dogs at great risk of injury or death, and failed to get any veterinary treatment when they were injured.”
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit are experts in investigating animal fighting offences and rely on information from the public to continue to put a stop to this horrific activity.
Sentencing: 21 weeks in prison. Banned from owning any animal for 15 years.
#TheList commercial breeder Simon Davis, born c. 1985, of Acacia Crescent, Bedworth CV12 – cropped American bulldog puppies’ ears with razor blades before selling them for thousands of pounds to celebrity clients
Davis, who trades under the name Lions Lair Kennels, admitted to cropping the ears of seven puppies. He was arrested on 30 January 2019, after the RSPCA and Warwickshire Police carried out a joint raid at his home address.
During the raid, they found seven kennels, in a converted garage building in his back garden, containing eight American Bulldogs.
The RSPCA gathered a range of evidence, including before and after photographs and medical appliances such as syringes, razor blades and forceps were seized from both properties.
A further nine American Bulldogs were found at Mr Davis’s mother’s house nearby on Chelsey Road, including two pregnant dogs and six with cropped ears.
The RSPCA urge people to never buy a dog with cropped ears, and have taken seven of the dogs into care to be re-homed.
Sentencing: 18 weeks in jail suspended for 12 months. Ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and pay £10,973 in costs. A 15-year ban on keeping and dealing in dogs.
#TheList Elisabeth Steel, born c. 1975, of Methven Avenue, Kilmarnock KA1 – gagged her pet with duct tape to go on holiday for the weekend
Elizabeth Steel abandoned collie cross Rio without adequate food or water after covering his face with a taped-on muzzle so he could not bark.
Steel’s neighbours alerted police after hearing the animal whimpering and spotting him through a window. Officers forced entry and found the dog barely moving and in very poor condition. He was infested with fleas, suffering from sores and an untreated skin infection.
Steel admitted causing unnecessary suffering by taping a muzzle to the dog’s face, denying him food, water or a means of escape, and failing to provide adequate care and treatment between 18 and 19 July, 2019.
Blaire Ford, prosecuting, said an upstairs neighbour could hear whimpering below and knew Steel had left the day before for a weekend away.
Miss Ford added: “He looked through the kitchen window and observed the dog locked within the kitchen with a muzzle on, which was wrapped with black tape, and noted that there was no food or water.”
The man called the Scottish SPCA, which was unable to respond initially, before contacting police the following day. Officers broke in using a battering ram after seeing Rio lying motionless.
Miss Ford said: “The dog was alive and had begun to move around and police noted there was no food or water in the dog bowls.
“The dog was wearing a muzzle wrapped in black tape and had a collar on which was too tight.”
Rio was taken to a vet for treatment, found temporary refuge and has since been re-homed.
Sheriff Watson told Steel: “On reading the terms of the report I am persuaded you are a foolish person who has behaved disgracefully towards the animal, but not with a cruel intention.
“You are clearly not a suitable person to own or have charge of an animal for the long-term.
“You and animals will not be coming close for the near future.”
Scottish SPCA Ch Supt Mike Flynn said: “Whilst we always look for a lifetime ban on keeping animals in cases of neglect like this, we are pleased the accused has received a 15-year ban.
“We hope Steel will seriously consider her ability to care for any other pets in the future.”
Sentencing: 80-day tagging order; 18-month supervision order. 15-year ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Tiffany Guest, born 25/12/1989, previously of Winn Close in Kenilworth, Warwickshire and with links to Washbourne Road, Leamington Spa CV31 2LD – left her pets to starve to death after she moved out of her flat and locked them inside.
Guest cruelly abandoned her cats Reggie and Ronnie and dog Kray in a property before concerned neighbours alerted police 10 days later.
Officers forced entry into the flat in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, and discovered the emaciated Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog and the body of a starved cat on May 30, 2017.
Shockingly, a court heard how Kray had only survived by eating Ronnie after running out of contents scavenged from the bin.
The RSPCA were alerted and took Kray into care for treatment while an investigation was launched.
Guest was traced to near her work, which was only a mile away from the flat where she abandoned the pets.
But she left the country in a bid to evade justice after being told she faced animal welfare offences and was later traced to Malta.
Guest returned to the UK 13 months ago and was arrested by border control for the outstanding warrant.
She was brought before magistrates in relation to the animal cruelty charges and was bailed to re-appear at another date – but again fled to Malta.
On October 10, 2019, Guest was again arrested after she re-entered the country and was remanded in custody until her case at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
Pictures released by the RSPCA show the emaciated body of poor pooch Kray and the remains of Reggie strewn across the untidy flat.
Other heartbreaking images show how the animals had trawled leftover food from the bin in a desperate bid to survive.
RSPCA Inspector Boris Lasserre said after the case: “It is incomprehensible to think the suffering these pets must have endured and how terrified they must have been for such a long period of time before the cats died of starvation.
“It must have been terrible for Kray to watch as the cats died in front of him.
“There was evidence the pets had scavenged to try and feed themselves as the bin contents were all over the kitchen floor.
“Just 14 days later, by being fed properly in RSPCA care he made an amazing recovery with a significant increase in weight.
“Warwickshire Police officers did an amazing job in finding Kray, who they renamed Bobby, just in time as he would not have survived much longer.
“He is a lovely gentle dog and made a remarkable recovery in RSPCA care and has now been re-homed.”
In mitigation, the court was told she suffered from depression at the time of the incident.
Sentencing: 18 weeks in jail. Ordered to pay £372 costs and charges. Banned from keeping all animals for 15 years.
#TheList breeder/hoarder Lynn Stoker, born 04/07/1956, of Raw Farm House, Byrness Village, Newcastle upon Tyne NE19 1TR – jailed for cruelty to more than 100 dogs and puppies
Stoker was found guilty of 11 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and four counts of failing to ensure an animal’s welfare needs were met. Her conviction came after 107 dogs and six puppies were found living in cramped cages and with no fresh drinking water.
She had denied all charges but was found guilty after a four-day trial.
Stoker was breeding dogs but struggled to sell them on and ended up with a house full of animals. She initially asked for help re-homing the pets but began behaving ‘evasively’ and ‘aggressively’ so a search warrant was issued in May 2018.
The RSPCA told the court that “not a single dog was in a healthy condition” when they were discovered locked up in cramped cages at Stoker’s home in May 2018.
The animals were suffering from a range of untreated health problems including chronic dental disease, eye infections and hip injuries. Stoker also failed to provide them with sufficient water.
Three dogs had a level of dental disease so high it resulted in a fractured jaw, and one of them only had three teeth as all the rest had fallen out because of severe disease.
Some animals were in such a bad state they needed to be put down.
The dog breeder claimed that her pets were never neglected and she had been doing the job for 25 years.
The pets at her home also included two cats and a tortoise.
Sentencing Stoker, district judge Bernard Begley said: “This is a particularly serious type of offence. Significant costs have been incurred.
“I really can’t find any redeeming features. This was a high level of suffering – some animals were euthanised.
“You have not shown a shred of remorse or contrition.”
Sentencing: jailed for 21 weeks; ordered to pay £50,000. Disqualified from keeping or breeding animals for at least 15 years.
#TheList Andrew McAuley, born c. 1961, of 127 Braepark Road, Ballyclare BT39 9SX – kept several dogs in filthy, freezing conditions with no access to food or water
In a case brought by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, McAuley was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering and failure to ensure the welfare of four dogs that were in his care.
Two dogs were found inside a car that was covered in snow in sub-zero conditions, steeped in urine, soiled with dog faeces and contained bird carcasses. Council’s animal welfare officer described the smell as “unbearable”.
A beagle that was tied up in a confined outhouse alongside dead bird and pig carcasses was also removed. Another dog was found roaming on site. All the dogs had no access to fresh water, food and were living in poor conditions.
An application for a Disposal Order in respect of a second case involving McAuley was also heard. This order was granted in respect of 17 dogs being held in the care of the council, for which new homes have now been identified with assistance of local charities.
Sentencing: eight-month jail sentence suspended for three years; costs of £217. Banned from keeping animals for 15 years.
#TheList Liam Patterson, born c. 1993, of Eastfield Road, Dumfries DG1 – trained three dogs for animal fighting
Liam Patterson was found in possession of videos on his personal devices showing his dogs fighting and being trained to fight. Dog fighting paraphernalia and photos were also found at his home.
Patterson pleaded guilty to training dogs for, causing and taking part in animal fighting. This is contrary to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 under Section 23 (1) (a) (2) (e).
He also admitted to being in possession of an American pit bull terrier which is a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Two of the dogs involved in the case were Staffordshire bull terriers named Zeus and Gucci and the American pit bull was called Bubba. All three were signed in to the care of the Scottish SPCA. Sadly Bubba had to be put to sleep because he was a banned breed.
An undercover Scottish SPCA special investigations unit inspector said, “We received information from the League Against Cruel Sports that Patterson was keeping and training dogs for the purposes of dog fighting and currently had fighting dogs at his home address.
“The intelligence we received also stated there was dog fighting equipment, books and gear at his home address.
“Due to immediate concerns for the welfare of the dogs, we obtained a search warrant and gained entry to the property where we found the three dogs. All appeared to be in good body condition.
“At the location, we found numerous items relating to dog fighting including weighted collars which are used as a training aid to strengthen and build endurance.
“Multiple videos of his own dogs fighting were found on Patterson’s personal devices. In many, he can be heard shouting encouragement in the background. Other footage discovered included other, unknown, dogs fighting and dogs with injuries consistent with fighting.
“Other videos showed Gucci, Zeus and Bubba being put through a vigorous training regime in line with dog fighting practice.
“Messages were found between Patterson and an unknown individual discussing plans to attend and enter in dog fights and their dogs’ ability to fight to the death. Communication was also discovered outlining Patterson’s desire to buy and sell American pit bulls.
“Over the course of this investigation, it became clear that Patterson had a fascination, verging on obsession, with dog fighting and breeds relating to the American pit bull. How he could hold these dogs in such high regard and let them fight each other with little regard for their welfare is very difficult to comprehend.
“We are very pleased with the sentence that has been handed to Patterson and we hope this is seen as a deterrent to other, active dog fighters.
“Dog fighting is such a well-guarded and underground crime, it’s extremely difficult to detect and investigate. We are proud to be leading the way using intelligence and expertise to bring these people to justice.
“The Scottish SPCA Special Investigation Unit is dedicated to combatting animal fighting. If anyone has any information pertaining to individuals who are involved in this activity, we would urge them to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”
Martin Sims, director of investigations for the League Against Cruel Sports said: “We’re very proud that it was our intelligence work that has been the basis for this conviction, but what this case serves to show to the public is how abhorrent the world of dog fighting is and why the courts need to have more sentencing powers to properly punish those involved.
“In England and Wales legislation is moving through parliament to see maximum custodial sentences for animal cruelty increased from six months to five years, but we are today calling on the Scottish Parliament to stop consulting on increasing sentences for animal cruelty and get on with passing the legislation that will be a proper deterrent to people like Liam Patterson who inflict pain on animals just to make money.”
Sentencing: 300-hour community payback order; 162-day restriction of liberty order. Banned from owning a dog for 15 years.