#TheList Robert ‘Bobby’ Evans, born c. 1984, of 9 Thompson Close, Rawmarsh, Rotherham S62 7LY – illegally kept 10 unringed goldfinches and neglected their needs
Gypsy traveller Bobby Evans, whose numerous previous convictions include cannabis farming and making threats of violence towards a female, admitted one offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and one offence under the Animal Welfare Act relating to 10 unringed goldfinches in his possession. He also admitted a further offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of possessing a wild bird trap.
The RSPCA, which brought the case, revealed that one of its inspectors visited Evans’ home with the local police wildlife crime officer in October 2019 following reports of bird trapping in local hedgerows.
RSPCA inspector and wildlife officer Sandra Dransfield said: “Evans had a legally ringed male bullfinch, two canaries and 10 unringed goldfinches in a small, dirty cage in a shed. The ten goldfinches, a cage trap – which wasn’t set – and other bird trapping paraphernalia were seized.
“The expert’s opinion was that the 10 goldfinches were wild-caught. Some of the birds had injuries from flying at the bars trying to get out, so after a short rehabilitation the birds were successfully released back to the wild, where they belong.”
In mitigation, the court heard that Evans had pleaded guilty and was a long-time breeder of birds.
Ms Dransfield added: “It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to trap or attempt to trap wild birds and this type of trapping causes immense distress and suffering to them.
“The illegal trapping and trading in wild birds has long been a problem. Taking a wild bird from its natural habitat and shutting it in a tiny cage is cruel.
“These birds can suffer immeasurably, not only physically but also mentally, and they often die shortly after being captured.”
Sentencing: community order with a two-month curfew; ordered to pay £292. Disqualified from keeping birds for three years,
#TheList persistent thug Dalton Prior, born 13/02/1996, of 8 Luggiebank Place, Bargeddie, near Coatbridge G69 7SE – kicked and terrorised his pet dog
Heartless Dalton Prior, who has numerous previous criminal convictions, including some for violence, caused the distressed five-year-old dog, known as Jock, unnecessary suffering by kicking him and pulling him harshly by the lead on November 7, 2019.
Earlier that day, he broke into a house on Drumpark Street with the intention of committing theft. The thug’s catalogue of crime continued when he assaulted a police officer by attempting to headbutt him.
Prior was on bail when he committed the offences.
He also admitted being in possession of a knife in public at Whifflet Court in June 2019.
Prosecutor Jamie Dunbar produced a list of Prior’s previous convictions, which were admitted.
The fiscal depute told Airdrie Sheriff Court: “It was a two-storey house. The householder and his daughter were within.
“At 2.20pm, they heard a door handle move and being forced by a shoulder. They shouted and saw a man running from the door holding a dog. He shouted back, ‘I must be at the wrong door’, and left the area.
“At 2.45pm, witnesses heard a dog yelp and saw a dog on a lead.
“The man with the dog, the accused, was very unsteady on his feet, pulling the dog behind him.
“He turned and kicked the dog. It cried out. He continued to pull the dog harshly.
“The dog was clearly frightened and distressed.
“At 3.05pm, police saw Prior. His speech was slurred. He was detained and searched.
“He became aggressive and motioned his head towards a police officer.
“He was restrained and taken into custody.”
The fiscal depute added: “In another matter at 5.45pm, the accused was known to the complainer.
“He heard a buzzer at his door and shouted to Prior you are not allowed in.
“He replied, ‘I’ve nowhere else to go. He lifted up his top and a black-handled kitchen knife was in the waistband of his trousers.
“Police were contacted and he was arrested.”
Defence lawyer Fraser McKinnon said, in mitigation of his client: “He has been on remand since November 8.
“His record does him no favours, caused by his drug addictions.
“He has several previous convictions.”
Sheriff Derek O’Carroll told Prior: “Given your record, which is very poor, and the nature of the offences, there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.
“You were also on licence at the time. You will return to prison for four months.
“For the incident with the dog, this was unpleasant cruelty.”
Sentencing: jailed for a total of 19 months on all of the charges. Banned from owning or being in control of an animal for three years (expires March 2023).
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 Steven Anthony Harrison, born 12/08/1985, of Brereton Road, Middlesbrough TS4 3HS – starved and neglected his pet dog and let him stray
Steven Harrison’s dog, known as Benson, was found “skinny, lethargic and retching’ with a potato stuck in his throat. He had also swallowed a dishcloth which was lodged in his stomach.
Career criminal Harrison, who has racked up dozens of convictions for house burglary, was convicted of two offences under the Animal Welfare Act: one of causing unnecessary suffering and one of failing to meet Benson’s needs.
A member of the public had alerted the RSPCA after the dog was found straying on February 4, 2019.
Inspector Clare Wilson said: “When I first saw Benson he was skinny, lethargic and kept retching and coughing constantly. I could feel and see all of his ribs and his spine.
“It was late at night so I took him to a nearby vet surgery where staff were concerned that he had an obstruction.
“He was put onto a drip and given pain relief and medication to help with the sickness. Vets did lots of tests and x-rays showed a large obstruction in his chest cavity, behind the heart. He needed a special operation to remove it – and that’s when vets found a whole potato and dishcloth inside him.
“It was touch and go whether he’d survive the complex operation but, luckily, he pulled through.”
Inspector Wilson traced Harrison and was told that Benson had been vomiting for a number of days but no veterinary treatment was sought and he was allowed to stray around the area.
She continued: “He was extremely poorly by the time we were able to get him the vet. He was lucky to survive.”
Benson was signed over to the RSPCA after court.
The inspector continued: “Poor Benson has a stricture in his oesophagus which means he will probably always need to be fed small amounts of food regularly so this incident has had a life-changing effect on him.
“He’s doing well otherwise though and is such a lovely dog that the animal centre staff who are caring for him are hopeful they will be able to find him the special home he needs and deserves when he’s ready.”
Sentencing: six weeks’ custody suspended for 12 months; ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work and to pay a victim surcharge of £115. Disqualified from keeping all animals for seven years.
Lahey had provided a foster home for the dog, after completing a charity’s home checks. But months later charity volunteers discovered Rex’s starved body in a black bag.
The chef told RSPCA investigators that he had not buried the rescue dog because he could not afford a spade.
North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard Lahey took Rex home on December 1, 2018. For the first few months, Lahey sent the charity regular updates, including photographs and videos of Rex’s progress. But the charity was later unable to contact the defendant and then received a call from a relative to collect Rex’s body on April 2, 2010.
Vets discovered that the rescue dog was emaciated – weighing just 12.35 kilograms. A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as emaciation.
The vet’s report stated: “There is a strong possibility that he was left without food for a few days. During this time he would be hungry, potentially cold at night as he was confined to a shed, and possibly psychologically distressed as scratch marks were found in the shed along with soiling.”
Lahey told the RSPCA that Rex had struggled to put on weight and that he had left the dog with someone else when he went away for a few weeks last March. He said he returned to find Rex dead.
Following the case, RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “It is horrendous to think of the suffering which poor Rex went through during the period leading up to his death.
“The vet’s report states he had been left in the shed for a number of days at least as scratch marks could be found near the door as Rex had desperately tried to get out.
“There is never an excuse not to feed a pet or seek veterinary treatment – if people are in need of help there are also plenty of animal charities that can help or in this case the animal rescue centre where Rex had come from would have taken him back.”
A spokesman for Pebbles Legacy, which placed Rex with Lahey, said: “We are so upset about what has happened to Rex and the suffering he must have endured. He was fostered by Lahey so he could have allowed us to take him back at any time if he was struggling but there was no indication of this at all.
“We carried out a number of home checks on Lahey which he passed and he sent us weekly updates, including videos and photographs, showing how well Rex was doing. There was even one of him looking so happy playing in the snow.
“We have no idea why this changed and it was awful to go the property and find a dog who we had cared for dead in such awful circumstances.
“It has been terribly upsetting for all our volunteers.”
Sentencing: ordered to pay a total of £850. Banned from keeping animals for life.
#TheList Ieuan Batten, born 23/10/1996, of Forest Avenue, Cefn Hengoed, near Ystrad Mynach CF82 – beat up his mother after she intervened to stop his savage attack on a dog
Prosecutor Leah Pollard told the court that 23-year-old Batten had a history of violence against his mother, with previous assault convictions recorded against him.
She said this latest attack happened just before Christmas 2019 when Batten came home “under the influence and in an aggressive mood”.
Judge Daniel Williams was told of how Batten’s mother and two women, one of whom was pregnant with his child, were in her house when he went “completely mad”.
After two dogs began fighting, he took one of them into the kitchen and repeatedly punched and kicked him.
Batten’s mother covered the animal to protect him before her son turned his attention to her.
Miss Pollard said: “He was in a complete rage. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the living room.
“He started punching her and stamping on her all over her body.”
One of the women told police: “It lasted for about half an hour. I have never seen such violence in my life and I was shocked – especially when it was carried out by someone against their own mother.”
The victim was taken to hospital with her face “totally swollen and black and her body covered in bruises”.
Batten pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
The court was told he had 20 previous convictions for 49 offences.
Nik Strobl, mitigating, said: “The defendant wishes to express his remorse and he can’t believe what he has done to his own mother.
“He has little recollection of what happened.”
Judge Williams told Batten, who was high on alcohol and drugs during the attack, that: “This was a savage assault. You used dreadful violence.”
Sentencing: jailed for two years and given a five-year restraining order preventing him from contacting his mother. He must pay a victim surcharge upon his release from custody. He was not banned from keeping animals.
#TheList Reece Reed (aka Reece Howard-Reed), born c. 2000, most recently of Club Street, Kettering NN16 8RP – mutilated a prize-winning miniature horse by stabbing him 20 times; ripped the wings off three chickens
Reed, who has previous convictions for burglary and vehicle theft, attacked the animals in April 2018 after breaking into a Wellingborough farm. The farm owner was alerted by a burglar alarm at 07:30 a.m.
Prosecutor Priya Bakshi told the court: “He ran to the summer house to investigate. There he found a shovel, and saw one window had been pried open and another had been smashed.
“He peered through the window. There, he saw a man with a six-inch kitchen knife inside the chicken coop.”
The farmer scared off the armed man – Reed, who was naked from the waist down – before searching his stables to see if any animals had been hurt.
It was then that he found his daughter’s prize-winning miniature show horse Sol. His back legs and rear had been stabbed 20 times and he was bleeding heavily.
Additionally, Reed had cut the wings off of three chickens. They had to be put down.
In court, the judge heard how Sol was a prize winner worth over £3,000 and was on track to becoming a champion show horse. But following the attack, Sol was rendered unfit to compete ever again.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, Sol’s owner said: After I learned that Sol had been hurt I was devastated and heartbroken.
“Sol was and is my best friend and he will always be part of the family.”
Reed later pleaded guilty to the offence.
His defence barrister, Osmun Munir, said the 19-year-old was “remorseful and expresses sympathy for the family”.
But in sentencing, Judge Fowler was unable to jail Reed for more than two months over the mutilations – because the attacks were charged as “criminal damage” rather than, for example, animal cruelty.
He told Reed: “This episode can only be described as wholly despicable. The charges that you face today do not reflect the wickedness of your behaviour.
“This has been treated as if it were criminal damage against two inanimate objects. It isn’t. And it is in my view and error that ought to be corrected.”
In the video Black can be seen viciously attacking the animal in Victoria Park in Newbury.
After he struck the dog five times in the face, he put the dog on a lead and walked off through the park.
Police were called and arrested Black.
They also took both his dogs under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Both have since been rehomed. The animal he punched was not injured in the attack.
Investigating officer, PC David Burleigh said: “Black demonstrated significant cruelty to his dog by punching it several times in the face, with no concern for its welfare.
“This behaviour is clearly totally unacceptable for a pet owner and I am pleased that not only has he received a prison sentence for his actions, but that he has been banned from owning animals for the next 10 years.
“We take reports such as these seriously and will look to investigate and take action against anyone who carries out this type of offence.”
Sentencing: jailed for 22 weeks; ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge. Banned from owning animals for 10 years.
Update 21/12/2019: KentLive reports that Black’s custodial sentence has been reduced to just 17 weeks following an appeal.
Black’s lawyer, Steve Molloy of Charles Hoile Solicitors in Newbury argued that his client’s behaviour “was his rather clumsy attempt to separate [the dogs] adding that: “There’s no suggestion the dogs were undernourished or routinely ill-treated. This was, in my submission, a one-off incident. It’s not in the league of dogfighting or dog baiting.”
He suggested the district judge who sentenced Black had erred in law by categorising the offence as “higher culpability”.
Molloy conceded that his client had been subject to a suspended prison sentence at the time, but said this was for a totally unrelated offence.
He concluded: “Mr Black has now served a custodial sentence of some weeks and, in my respectful submission, the proper sentence would be one of time served.”
That would have allowed Black to walk free and spend Christmas with his partner, who accompanied him to court.
But Judge Richard Wheeler pointed to Black’s 288 previous convictions for offences including battery, burglary, theft and being drunk and disorderly.
He said Black’s actions had breached the terms of a suspended prison sentence order.
Judge Wheeler added: “I’m perfectly satisfied it was correct in law to activate the five-week suspended sentence and to add a consecutive sentence for the current offence.”
He told Black: “You committed this offence less than a month after the suspended sentence and you have a lengthy and extremely depressing record.
“But I’m persuaded to allow the appeal to this extent: while the five blows can be characterised as a deliberate and gratuitous attempt to cause harm to the dog, it was lesser harm, not greater harm. There was no prolonged suffering.”
The judge ruled that 12 weeks’ imprisonment, rather than 18, should have been added consecutively to the five-week suspended sentence, reducing the total to 17 weeks rather than 22.