#TheList backyard breeder Robert Milliken, born 25/05/1986, of 81 Rathkyle, Antrim BT41 1LQ – for the wilful neglect of four dogs
Father-of-three Robert Milliken was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to four dogs – two hounds and two Patterdale terriers kept in pens at a property in Ballyutoag Hill in Crumlin.
Lawyers for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, who brought the case, confirmed that a complaint had been received about dogfighting and living conditions relating to the animals.
When a visit was made to the property, 13 dogs were found across three pens.
In one pen, there was a terrier-type dog with a wound to his lip while a second pen containing seven dogs was riddled with faeces.
In the third pen, there was a terrier and four underweight hounds. One dog had a swollen muzzle which was bloody.
The court heard that a vet attended and determined that the two terriers and two of the hounds were suffering and should be seized.
On a subsequent visit to the premises inspectors were met with a strong smell of urine. Two dogs were running loose. One of them was described as pot-bellied with swollen glands while the other was underweight.
No water or food was available to the dogs and when offered water one of the dogs drank so much she vomited.
These dogs were also seized.
Milliken’s lawyer told the court that his client was an animal lover who had kept dogs for many years. He had, however, lost stability in his life after the breakdown of his marriage and had been “bingeing on drugs”.
He told the court that his client – a trained butcher who had struggled to find work – had been sentenced on three years in prison in 2009 for an unrelated, unspecified crime and was terrified of going back to jail.
He urged the judge to consider his client’s circumstances when arriving at her judgement.
District Judge Oonagh Mullan was unconvinced, however, describing photos of the animals as ‘horrendous’ before she lamented the ‘suffering they must have undergone and the conditions they were living with’. She added that Milliken’s treatment of his dogs amounted to “willful neglect”.
After rising to consider her options, District Judge Mullan suspended the operation of the four-month sentences for three years and imposed the ban and order for costs.
Sentencing: four-month suspended prison sentence. Costs of £349. Banned from keeping animals for ten years.