#TheList Kieran John Jerome Mitchell, born 27/05/1995, of Keswick Crescent, Plymouth PL6 – punched and slapped his pet dog 36 times causing him to suffer wounds to his head and ears
Convicted cannabis dealer Mitchell, formerly of Penrose Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth, was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the bull terrier Hugo in November 2017. He was convicted in his absence back in July 2018 and a warrant issued for his arrest the following month.
Mitchell surrendered to custody in March 2020. He was released on bail but failed to turn up at the next hearing. Magistrates have now issued a further arrest warrant.
The RSPCA, which brought the case, said concerns were raised about the welfare of Hugo, after they were sent an anonymous audio recording of him being beaten and taunted by Mitchell.
RSPCA prosecutor Lindi Meyer told the court it was a “nasty sustained attack” with a total of 36 hits, punches or slaps heard on the recording.
As Mitchell attacked the dog he can be overheard goading him, asking him: “Are you crying now? Whimpering?”
The RSPCA seized Hugo from Mitchell and took him to a vet for examination. The vet found three lesions on his face, one of which was near an eye. The vet said that the beating would have been a traumatic experience for Hugo, causing him to feel “terror, fear, pain and anxiety”.
Mitchell admitted in his interview that he smacked Hugo and would rub his nose in it if he fouled on the floor.
The presiding magistrate told Mitchell: “You acted in anger against an innocent animal.”
Sentencing: 24 weeks in prison. £115 victim surcharge. Banned from owning animals for ten 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.
#TheList Daniel Stasik, born c. 1988, of 6 Walker Grove, Hatfield AL10 9PL – allowed his banned-breed ‘fighting’ dog to savage a pet cat and failed to get help for the stricken animal
At around 11am on June 23, 2018, a pitbull-type dog owned by Daniel Stasik chased a cat named Shelly into an alleyway in Walker Grove and attacked her. Stasik grabbed the dog, but was unable to keep control of him.
He did not attempt to assist the cat or find her owners to get medical assistance.
Around 1am the following morning, Shelly was found by her owner in a nearby garden covered in blood and faeces and unable to place any weight on her hind legs.
Due to the length of time she had been left, there were maggots around her wounds.
Over the next few days, Shelly’s condition deteriorated and following multiple treatments and attempts at resuscitation, she died from her injuries on July 1, 2018.
On July 20, officers from the Welwyn Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Team and the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit attended Stasik’s address to execute a warrant to seize his dog.
The dog was examined and confirmed to be substantially a pit bull-type.
Stasik was reported to court for possessing a fighting dog under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.
At court, Stasik pleaded guilty to possessing a fighting dog and, while initially pleading not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Shelly, was found guilty of that offence.
PC Gavin Richardson, from the Welwyn Hatfield West Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Pit bulls are banned in the UK and Stasik’s dog posed a very serious danger to public safety.
“Not only did Stasik have possession of a banned dog breed, but he made no attempts to help save the cat and instead simply left her to die.
“This was extremely distressing for her owners who found their beloved pet in an incredibly distressed state with horrendous injuries.
“I hope that this sentence provides some justice for the victims and that the public feel safe knowing that Stasik will not be allowed to have dog for another decade.”
Sentencing: 240 hours of unpaid community work. Ordered to pay compensation to Shelly’s owners for vet costs and to the police for kenneling costs. Banned from having custody of a dog for 10 years. Stasik’s dog was ordered to be put down, unless an appeal is lodged within 21 days.
=== Update We’re building quite a profile on this piece of filth. He is from Poland. He came to the UK in 2009 to work as a painter/decorator but is now living on benefits. He showed no remorse in court and he and his friend seemed to find the proceedings amusing. He freely admitted in court that he beat his dog. Another cat belonging to Shelly’s heartbroken owner died after being deliberately poisoned. This happened just after Stasik was charged. Coincidence? Stasik has another address in Prayle Grove, London NW2 1BD
#TheList Kimberleigh Joanne Steele (aka Kim Donaghy), born 24/02/1989, currently of Castleland, Tulsk, County Roscommon, Ireland, and previously of 19 Polyanthus Drive, Sleaford and with links to Plymouth, Devon – bred dogs for fighting
Steele was part of a dog fighting ring which was headed up by her partner, John Herbert Knibbs.
Knibbs has failed to attend numerous hearings and a warrant is out for his arrest after he was convicted of dog fighting, ear cropping and causing unnecessary suffering.
Steele travelled from Ireland for a trial at Lincoln Magistrates Court on Monday, 8 April 2019.
Before moving to Ireland Steele lived in Sleaford with Knibbs and has also stayed at two different addresses in Plymouth: Downfield Walk PL7 2DT and Durban Road PL3
In court she was sentenced for aiding and abetting Knibbs as well as possession of a banned pit bull terrier. The court also heard how she had ten animals in total, which were all used in a dog fighting ring. One has since died.
RSPCA prosecutor Hazel Stevens told the court: “At the time of the raid Steele claimed to own all of the dogs.
“We are looking after the dogs in kennels for £15,700 a year. Some are so dangerous they need to be darted before the staff can go inside.”
Sentencing Steele, the judge told her: “Your partner Knibbs has not attended court and is not that big of a man without his dogs.
“The custody threshold has passed but I am going to suspend it because you have young children.”
Speaking after Steele’s sentencing RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall said : “It is a shame that Knibbs wasn’t here today.
“We are pleased with the district judge’s comments and the sentence he’s handed down. Knibbs isn’t bold enough to be here, we hope he will be sentenced soon.”
Sentencing: suspended custodial sentence of 16 weeks; £615 in fines. Banned from keeping animals for a paltry five years.
#TheList Neil Forrest, born 26/06/1974, of Meadow View, Aspenden, Buntingford SG9 9PB – ran an abhorrent dog fighting yard at his home
Former heroin addict Forrest trained dogs to fight and had images of dog fighting on his phone. He admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a Staffordshire bull terrier and for possessing three pit bull terrier-type dogs which he used to fight.
District Judge Derek French told Forrest: “You have shown little or no remorse about what these dogs have gone through. These dogs were used by you as fighting dogs.
“This was clearly done with a view of commercial gain.”
On 5 March 2017 a badly injured young female Staffordshire bull terrier was found cowering in a garden by a member of the public in Aspenden, after she managed to escape from Forrest’s home.
Prosecuting, Mark Jones, said: “She was found cowering in a garden with numerous open wounds and scars to her body. There were numerous bite injuries to the muzzle, the mouth, her legs, and near the left eye of the dog.
“The vet who looked at the dog said that the wounds were between three and four days old.”
RSPCA inspector Cliff Harrison said: “This poor dog was absolutely covered in wounds – both fresh and historic – with bite marks, scratches and puncture wounds predominantly around her muzzle, ears and legs.
“These sorts of injuries are exactly the sort of thing we see when dogs are forced to fight another dog and the vet agreed that the injuries were consistent with dog fighting.”
A number of calls were made by Forrest to vets and dog wardens, including from Forrest’s mobile, while they tried to find the missing bull terrier that was being treated at a Buntingford vets.
After concluding that the dog belonged to Forrest, who admitted having a 20-year addiction to heroin, the police and RSPCA launched a raid in Aspenden on 19 May 2017, finding books on pit bulls and dog fighting as well as three bull pit type dogs. Two of the dogs were extremely athletic and there were weighing scales and a treadmill to run dogs on in a garage next to the kennels.
Mr Harrison said: “It appears he has tried to run his own dog fighting yard – called Neil’s Yard – but it’s unclear whether he’s had much if any success with that.
“What is clear is that his dogs have significant injuries consistent with dog fighting and have clearly been caused suffering due to his pastime.
“We believe he has been involved in this abhorrent, secretive bloodsport for years.” Judge French said: “These dogs were being used and kept as a livelihood for you. These dogs were going to suffer seriously.”
Forrest was due to stand trial but pleaded guilty just before it was about to start to one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, keeping or training animals for use in dog fights and possessing dogs which were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Sentencing: 24 weeks in prison; costs of £750. Banned from owning animals for life. The three pit bull type dogs were ordered to be destroyed.
#TheList James Silvers, born c. 1996, formerly of Hickinwood Crescent, Clowne, Chesterfield S43 4AQ, and possibly now living in Nottingham – left his dogs locked in crates for several days while he went away
James Silver pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to meet the needs of bull terriers Lola and Blue, whom he had kept locked in “prison cells” without food or water.
The RSPCA was alerted to the dogs by a concerned member of the public and an inspector went to the property in New Street, Pilsley, with the police.
Inspector Rachel Leafe said: “There were two crates, one on top of the other, with one dog in each. These weren’t big crates either – they were big enough for them to stand up, but that was all. There was no food or water in the crates, just empty bowls which were bone dry, and they just had rags sodden with urine to lie on. There was also faeces around the edges of the crates.
“It is horrific to think that they had to live in these conditions. It was as though both dogs were living in their own little prison cells.”
After being rescued, both dogs were cared for by the RSPCA. Staffordshire bull terrier Lola was rehomed but Blue wasn’t so lucky. A police dog legislation officer identified him as a banned breed under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act and, as a result, he was put to sleep.
Inspector Leafe said: “This is a very sad ending as we were hoping to see Blue into a new home. The RSPCA do not make these decisions. We do not agree with Breed Specific Legislation and have been campaigning for changes for some time.”
Sentencing: nine-month community order; total of £205 fine and charges. Five-year ban on keeping animals (expires August 2023).
The dogs were found by police in November 2016 when they were called to McGinn’s previous address on Westbury Street, Birkenhead , on an unrelated matter.
Officers found Ronnie and Reggie shut in the kitchen and contacted the RSPCA over their welfare
RSPCA inspector Naomi Norris said: “Both of the dogs were painfully thin, you could see pretty much every bone in their body – they looked like walking skeletons. These should have been big, strapping dogs but they were wasting away. Reggie also had an open wound on his back, although we don’t know for sure how he got this wound.
“Put simply, they were both in a very poor condition. The environment that they were living in was also dreadful. The back yard was completely covered in faeces – it was not suitable for a dog to live in – and both dogs had overgrown claws, which would have made walking uncomfortable.
“In 2007, McGinn was banned from keeping animals for 10 years so he was in breach of his disqualification order when we were called about the dogs.
“It should be clear that when someone is banned from keeping animals, it is to protect further animals from harm. Sadly, McGinn breached his ban and as a result, two more dogs suffered.”
Staffordshire bull terrier Ronnie has since been rehomed, however sadly Reggie was identified by a police dog legislation officer as a banned breed under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, and as a result was put to sleep.
Inspector Norris said: “This is a very sad ending as Reggie was recovering well and we were hoping to see him into a new home. The RSPCA do not make these decisions. We do not agree with breed specific legislation and have been campaigning for changes to this law for a long time.
McGinn pleaded guilty to three offences of failing to meet the dogs’ needs and one offence of being in breach of an animal disqualification order.
Sentencing: three-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay costs of £385 and a £115 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for 15 years.
#TheList Tomas ‘Evo’ Evison, born 24/01/1989, most recent known address Woolley Wood Road, Sheffield S5 0UF – admitted breeding, selling and possessing a number of fighting dogs, who the court ordered to be ‘destroyed’
Evison admitted two counts of possession of a fighting dog, one count of selling a fighting dog and one count of breeding fighting dogs. An order was also made to destroy the dogs.
In July 2016, officers from South Yorkshire Police executed a warrant at Evison’s address, where they found a male and female pit bull terrier – dogs which are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The female pit bull terrier was found to be pregnant when officers seized the animals, but Evison disclaimed the litter.
Temporary Sergeant Matt Duffy from the Status Dogs team said: “Evison’s activities potentially put the lives of his family, friends and the wider community at risk by breeding and selling banned breeds.
“His actions could have led to the suffering of other dogs and animals, as well as the potential to cause significant distress to dog owners if their dogs have to be taken from them.
“We are committed to protecting our communities and will always investigate reports relating to the ownership, breeding and/or selling of banned breeds.”
Sentence: 80 hours of unpaid work, 25 days’ supervision, fined £145; banned from keeping, owning or participating in the keeping or selling dogs for five years (expires March 2022).