Tag Archives: County Durham

Stanley, County Durham: David Morton

#TheList David Morton, born c. 1992, of Jane Street, Stanley DH9 7BH – left his husky dog to suffer with a broken leg for more than four weeks.

David Morton, who is no stranger to the courts, told magistrates he didn't "give a monkeys'after being convicted for leaving his pet dog to suffer in agony with a broken leg
Morton, who is no stranger to the courts, told magistrates he didn’t “give a monkeys’after being convicted for leaving his pet dog to suffer in agony with a broken leg

Serial headcase David Morton was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal for failing to get veterinary treatment for his pet husky’s broken leg. The cause of the dog’s injury was unexplained.

Morton, who was recently given community service after sending human faeces to a police officer, told magistrates that he “didn’t give a monkey’s” what they said and would have two dogs by the weekend.

Husky Sendi who was mistreated and neglected by her uncaring owner David Morton
Husky Sendi who was mistreated and neglected by her uncaring owner David Morton

Kevin Campbell, prosecuting on behalf of RSPCA, said the charity became involved after a veterinary surgeon contacted them to raise concerns about Morton’s dog, a female husky named Sendi.

He said: “On the 22nd July [2019] the dog was seen by a vet who conceded that the dog had a fracture to her leg and the injury was four to six weeks old. The dog had either been untreated or treated inadequately.

“She concluded that the dog was clearly suffering as a result of the failure to give it any proper treatment.”

The dog had a broken femur and was unable to walk when she was seen by a vet.

Mr Campbell added: “When inspectors attended the address they could see the dog was unable to stand on its hind leg.

“A male answered the door and said he was the defendant, the inspector asked him about the dog in question and he was uncooperative – referring to him as a donkey.

“The defendant told him to f*** off, he was not allowed to enter the property and police had to be called to help him.”

PIctured is convicted dog abuser David Morton outside court

Paul Donohue, mitigating, said the 28-year-old had not set out to harm his own dog.

He said: “The actual injury has not been caused on purpose. It was caused accidentally and the complaint is that the dog did not have the proper treatment. He accepts that the dog did not have an operation but that wasn’t for lack of trying.

PIctured is convicted dog abuser David Morton outside court

“Like many people he does not have insurance so if anything happens it would fall to him to pay for it.

“If he had £5,000 there and then he would have spent it on the dog.

“He didn’t want the dog to suffer but he just has not got the money.”

Sendi was treated by the RSPCA and remains in their care.

Sentencing: ordered to pay £480 costs. Banned from keeping animals for five years. Morton is already serving a community order for a previous offence.

Northern Echo

Hartlepool, County Durham: Natasha Corbett

#TheList Natasha K Corbett, born c. 1988, of Meryl Gardens, Stockton Road, Hartlepool TS25 2PL – neglected and starved two dogs kept in pens in an outbuilding.

Convicted animal abuser Natasha Corbett from Hartlepool

Single mother Natasha Corbett pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a dog called Lucky and of failing to ensure the welfare of a second dog, Otis.

The court heard vets found Lucky had a body condition score of 1 out of 9, along with painful, matted fur and Otis was significantly underweight with a score of 2 out of 9.

Pictured is Lucky after she'd been shaved to remove painful matted fur
Lucky had to be shaved to remove painful matted fur

Stewart Heywood, prosecuting, said an RSPCA officer attended Corbett’s house in early October 2019 after concerns were raised about the dogs’ welfare.

He said the dogs were being kept in metal pens inside an outbuilding and the officer could see they needed immediate vet care.

The prosecutor said: “She said she relied on the children to feed both the dogs, but admitted she did not check they were doing so.”

Pictured is neglected dog Otis.
Otis was underweight due to not being fed properly

He said Corbett was given an RSPCA caution in 2018 after she admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a number of puppies.

A spokesman for the probation service said Corbett, a former pupil at Manor College of Technology, is a single mother and works full time as a senior sales assistant for BrightHouse.

He said her two sons, aged nine and 11, were given the responsibility of caring for the dogs.

Convicted animal abuser Natasha Corbett from Hartlepool

He said: “Ms Corbett now recognises that the responsibility to care for the dogs was her own.

“Due to her ignorance and lack of finance the dogs were not cared for as they should have been.

“She feels guilty about what happened.”

Andrew Teate, defending, said the dogs had been brought into the family by Ms Corbett’s former partner who was then sent to prison.

He said Ms Corbett’s cats were well looked after and the RSPCA had no issues with their care.

He said: “The children were caring for the animals, she accepts with the benefit of hindsight that was unsatisfactory.”

Sentencing: 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months; four-week curfew. Banned from keeping all animals for ten years. Deprivation order on her cats.

Hartlepool Mail

Additional information:
Natasha Corbett Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tashacorbett88/

Newton Aycliffe, County Durham: Sharon Lunn

#TheList Sharon Lunn, born c. 1975, of Biscop Crescent, Newton Aycliffe DL5 – failed to get treatment for her elderly dog’s severe dental disease, cataracts and large tumour.

Elderly dog Max was neglected by his junkie owner Sharon Lunn
Junkie Sharon Lunn ignored 14-year-old Max’s health problems

RSPCA inspectors attended Lunn’s address in response to a call from a concerned member of the public where they found 14-year-old Max dirty and with a large swollen lump on his testicle.

Kevin Campbell, prosecuting, said: “The dog was removed from the house and taken to the vets who confirm that the dog has cataracts and severe dental disease on both sides of its mouth, on the upper and lower jaws and a large swollen lump on his testicle.

“He states that the dog would have been suffering as a result of the neglect. He also had suppressed bone marrow, anaemia and fleas at that time and needed 21 teeth removing as a result.

“The vet states that the dog would have been in pain, with that degree of toothache.

“It would have been visible to any reasonable dog owner.

“The vet states the symptoms would have been visible for at least six months.

“They believe that the person responsible should not be looking after animals.

“It’s accepted by the RSPCA that this was not a deliberate cause of suffering, rather neglect over a long period of time.”

A report from probation said Lunn was devastated about what had happened.

It said: “She lives alone and has not worked for a number of years and she’s not really able to start work at the moment because of her emotional health.

“She is also currently on a methadone prescription.

“During her early 20s she became addicted to cocaine after a serious operation which progressed to heroin.

“There have been times in her life when she has been unable to leave the house.

“She says she knows she should have got medical attention but the dog seemed happy and running around.

“She is devastated by everything that has happened and says the dog was the only thing she had left in her life. She very much regrets her actions and the thought that the animal suffered devastates her.”

Lunn pleaded guilty to three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between August 2018 and August 2019.

Sentencing: 12-month community order with a requirement to complete 15 rehabilitation activity days. Total of £235 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for five years.

Northern Echo

Stanley, County Durham: Natasha Brown

#TheList Natasha J Brown, born 03/11/1993, of Lumsden Terrace, Stanley DH9 8EQ – killed a dog by punching her four times to the head

Dog killer Natasha Brown from Stanley, Co Durham, UK

The court heard how Brown, accompanied by her female terrier dog, had met up with her ex-partner to discuss the return of some items and the pair had gone to the home of her great uncle in Washington.

Oriana Frame, prosecuting, said everything was fine at first, but after Brown had consumed lager and a bottle of wine, she tried to kiss and cuddle her ex, who said no and asked her to leave.

However, she wouldn’t and the situation escalated with Brown becoming aggressive.

Reading from a statement by Brown’s former partner, Ms Frame said they were in the sitting room trying to calm her down and Brown was threatening to smash the great uncle’s phone if he called the police.

The statement went on: “Her dog was sitting on the sofa, she picked up her dog and punched it four times to the head with force. It was screaming. It went limp and lifeless.”

She said Brown then grabbed her ex by the throat and hit her head against the wall. She also bit her finger.

The statement said: “I was trying to comfort the dog and [my great uncle] was telling her to get out and she clenched her fist and told said ‘shut up or I will hit you as well’. Natasha pushed him in the chest causing him to fall back.”

Dog killer Natasha Brown from Stanley, Co Durham, UK

Ms Frame said Brown’s former partner managed to phone the police and when they arrived the dog appeared to be having a fit and was shaking uncontrollably. She was taken to the PDSA where vets said she had a bleed on her brain and an injured leg and they couldn’t save her.

Ms Frame said Brown told police: “I punched the dog because I couldn’t punch my ex – I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt her.”

In his statement, the elderly man said at 82-years-old he couldn’t stop the defendant and was frightened at what she would do next, during the incident on October 1, 2019.

Brown, who has a history of violence and previous convictions for robbery and harassment, said: “I hate myself more than anybody else could.”

Angus Westgarth, defending, said: “I have no doubts at all that there is very, very deep regret. She is still torturing herself about what she did.”

He said she takes medication for mental health problems.

Brown admitted two charges of assault and one of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Sentencing: 24-week jail sentence, suspended for 24 months; two-year restraining order. She was ordered to pay costs and charges totalling £207.

Sunderland Echo
Daily Mail

Stockton-On-Tees, County Durham: Nicola Poppleton

#TheList Nicola Poppleton, born 26/03/1981, of Bridge House, 48-56 Bridge Road, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 3AX – for the severe neglect of her pet dog, who was found with injuries including cigarette burns

Alcoholic mother of six Nicola Poppleton from Stockton-on-Tees left her elderly dog Buster to suffer with a variety of ailments and injuries including cigarette burns
Alcoholic mother of six Nicola Poppleton left her elderly dog Buster to suffer with a variety of ailments and injuries including cigarette burns

Mother-of-six Nicola Poppleton, was drinking up to eight litres of cider a day while her cross-breed terrier named Buster suffered skin lesions, a severe ear infection and a jaw muscle condition.

The dog was found by an RSPCA inspector in a flat in Hartington Road, in central Stockton, while Poppleton was “fighting in a drunken state” outside.

Poppleton had faced four separate charges relating to causing suffering to an animal which were found proved in absence when she failed to attend Teesside Magistrates’ Court the previous month.

Stewart Haywood, prosecuting, told the court that the 10-year-old dog was found with a number of lesions consistent with cigarette burns.

He also stated that there was “muscle wastage to his head and he could barely open his jaw.”

The inspector was unable to speak to Poppleton at length as she “got into a fight with a group of people who were in a similar state.”

After further talks, Poppleton finally allowed Buster to be taken in by the RSPCA.

He was immediately taken to see a vet, who carried out tests and estimated Buster had been suffering for around three months.

The court heard Buster couldn’t fully open his mouth, meaning he could not regulate his body temperature correctly.

The vet gave him treatment, including pain killers but he was still only able to open his mouth about “three centimetres”.

He also had an ear infection, with the vet also believing he had injuries consistent with “cigarette burns.”

Despite the findings, it could not be determined if the burns were deliberate or accidental, Mr Haywood said.

The court heard that Poppleton had “accepted ownership” of Buster and that she “didn’t know he was suffering.”

A probation report stated that Poppleton was “too drunk” to notice anything was wrong with her dog who she claimed she “loved.”

Neil Douglas, defending, told how his defendant acknowledged that she was not capable of caring for the animal at the time.

He said: “This was a lady of good character who had clearly looked after the dog in reasonable state for a number years.

“However it was her alcohol misuse which essentially caused her to lose the ability to look after the dog and very nearly herself.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order with an alcohol rehabilitation requirement; £480 in costs. Banned from owning animals for just five years.


Hartlepool: Shaun Brown

#TheList Shaun Brown, born c. 1983, formerly of Runciman Road, Hartlepool, and now of Brenda Road, Hartlepool – fifth member of a gang of badger baiters

Shaun Brown was the driver of gang of badger baiters with the other members – Clint Dodd, Michael Dodd, Connor Pounder and Daniel Joyce – all sentenced last month.

Jane Chadwick, prosecuting, said that when police, alerted by a member of the public, arrived at the sett in Hovingham, west of Malton, Brown tried to drive off but crashed and was arrested walking away from the scene with his dog beside him.

A second dog called Brock, which his co-accused put down the sett, was badly injured.

The other members of the Hartlepool-based badger baiting gang: clockwise from top left Clint Dodd, Daniel Joyce, Connor Pounder and Michael Dodd
The other members of the Hartlepool-based badger baiting gang: clockwise from top left Clint Dodd, Daniel Joyce, Connor Pounder and Michael Dodd

Brown pleaded guilty to digging for badgers, interfering with a badger sett, causing unnecessary suffering to Brock the terrier, careless driving, driving without insurance and without a licence.

District judge Adrian Lower told him he may not have actually helped dig up the sett, or put Brock down it, but he was part of the badger baiting.

“You cannot pretend that you didn’t know what everyone else was going to do when you arrived in North Yorkshire.

“Nearly everyone apart from you and your companions would think that such behaviour is absolutely appalling and involves nothing less than the attempted torture of an animal that cannot properly defend itself against men and a terrier.”

Sentencing: six-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months on condition he stays out of North Yorkshire and doesn’t associate with any other members of the gang. Banned from driving for 12 months; ordered to pay £368.02 towards the costs of treating and caring for the injured Brock, a £115 statutory surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.

The district judge did not give Brown an animal ban. He said Brown’s dog was uninjured and did not appear to have been used for badger baiting, so he could keep her.

York Press

Hartlepool, County Durham: Clint Dodd, Michael Dodd, Daniel Joyce and Connor Pounder

#TheList badger baiters Clint Dodd, born 09/04/1996, and Michael Dodd, born 1991, both of 43 Thornhill Gardens, Hartlepool TS26 0JF, Connor Pounder, born c. 1996, of 31 Speeding Drive, Hartlepool TS24 9QE and Daniel Joyce, born c. 1990, of 70 Granville Avenue, Hartlepool TS26 8NA

Badger baiters from Hartlepool, County Durham: Clint Dodd, Michael Dodd, Daniel Joyce, Connor Pounder
Badger baiters from Hartlepool, Co Durham

Brothers Clint and Michael Dodd and accomplices Daniel Joyce and Connor Pounder, all of Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to offences under the Badger Act 1992 and Animal Welfare Act 2006 after they were found interfering with a known badger sett in the village of Hovingham, North Yorkshire.

Jagd terrier Brock suffered horrific facial injuries after being forced into a badger sett by his cruel owners
Jagd terrier Brock suffered horrific facial injuries after being forced into a badger sett by his cruel owners

The gang admitted digging for badgers, interfering with a badger sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a Jagd Terrier named Brock who they were using to send down the badger sett.

A fifth defendant, Shaun Brown, 28, of Runciman Road, Hartlepool, failed to attend court and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Badger baiting brothers Clint and Michael Dodd from Hartlepool, Co Durham
Badger baiting brothers Clint and Michael Dodd from Hartlepool, Co Durham

A member of the public spotted a group of men close to a known badger sett in Hovingham on 11 January 2019 and immediately reported it to North Yorkshire Police. When officers arrived, they found four of the men digging the sett and scanning the ground with a tracker locator device trying to trace a dog which was currently in the sett.

The terrier dog, Brock, was underweight and found with serious injuries to his face and muzzle as well as painful ulcerations to his eyes and an untreated eye infection. He was treated by local vets and will now be rehomed.

The Jagd Terrier is a German breed, renowned for their hunting abilities so will often be used to engage in illegal activities such as badger baiting. The name ‘Brock’ is also a colloquialism for badger.

Badger baiter Connor Pounder from Hartlepool, Co Durham
Connor Pounder

North Yorkshire Police’s Inspector Kevin Kelly is Head of the national Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group (BPPDG). He said: “I took on this role because I’m serious about badger crime and I hope this sentencing result sends a clear message that badger persecution will not be tolerated. You interfere with badger sets, you receive a custodial sentence – it’s as simple as that.

“Wildlife crime can often be contested and hard fought in the court room so it’s positive to see the defendants in this case plead guilty on first appearance. It demonstrates the importance of the partnership working that we have championed in the BPPDG – using the skills and knowledge of key partners, former wildlife crime officers and expert witnesses to present a strong case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“This case has been led by one of North Yorkshire Police’s new Wildlife Crime Officers, PC Rory Sadler and it’s great to see such a positive result. I’d also like to praise the actions of the member of the public who reported the sett disturbance. It’s really important that people are vigilant to wildlife crime and we start working on our legacy now to develop the next generation.”

Badger baiter Michael Dodd from Hartlepool, Co Durham
Michael Dodd

RSPCA Inspector and National Wildlife Officer Coordinator, Geoff Edmond, said: “The RSPCA works very closely with North Yorkshire Police to achieve best practice when investigating rural and wildlife crime. Significant results are now being seen in the courts.

Brock has recovered from his ordeal and will be rehomed

“This case highlights the skills and expertise being achieved which sends a strong message that crimes like this involving cruelty to badgers and injuries to the dogs involved will be investigated and dealt with seriously at court. Badger related crime is horrific, unnecessary and will not be tolerated.”

Sentencing: Clint Dodd, Joyce and Pounder were each given a 10-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay costs. . They were ordered not to enter North Yorkshire for 12 months. Michael Dodd was already in receipt of a suspended sentence for driving whilst disqualified and was consequently jailed for 14 weeks. All four were disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

North Yorkshire Police

Update 17 August 2019: the fifth member of the gang Shaun Brown was given a suspended sentence.

Badger baiter Shaun Brown from Hartlepool

He was not banned from keeping animals as his dog was seemingly injured with the judge taking from this he had not been used for badger baiting.

Hartlepool, County Durham: Michaela Durkin

#TheList Michaela Alison Durkin, born c. 1995, of Jesmond Gardens, Hartlepool TS24 – allowed her dog to suffer with a broken leg for a month, eventually forcing vets to amputate it.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin
Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin pleaded guilty one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between March and April 2019.

The mother-of-two lied to RSPCA inspectors claiming her whippet, Lola, had fallen down the stairs and injured her right hind leg, but appeared to “brighten up” after a couple of days.

A member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity after noticing the family pet had an “obvious and noticeable injury”. Lola was unable to put any weight on the leg and it appeared visibly swollen.

The court heardhow Durkin denied witnessing Lola falling down the stairs, but had heard a yelp. However, she claimed she could not remember the date that the dog first began holding up one leg.

Dave Dedman, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “Lola was taken to see a vet who stated she was incapable of putting any weight on the leg and it was clear there was a fracture to the femur, muscle contractures and shortening of the limb.

“She said that had occurred over a prolonged period of time. She was hospitalised on April 5, 2019, but very sadly, because of the break and because the muscle had contracted, Lola had her right hind leg amputated on April 8.”

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin, was interviewed four days later and said she thought Lola had not been herself for a couple of days, but had perked back up and she had no reason to think Lola’s leg was broken.

Vets caring for the whippet confirmed it was impossible for the dog to have sustained the injury by falling down the stairs and said the fracture had happened at least four weeks prior to the RSPCA investigation.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

They instead suggested Lola’s leg had been subjected to “substantial lateral force”. The court heard allegations that the father of Durkin’s children had kicked the dog, however no charges were brought against him.

Mr Dedman concluded there had been “prolonged neglect”, adding: “It’s a very sad and there’s a high level of suffering caused to the dog, to the point where her leg had to be amputated.”

A probation report stated Durkin had significant personal and financial problems and could not afford veterinary bills.

Durkin’s solicitor, Gavin Musgrave, conceded the family pet had sustained a “horrific injury” and told the court that Lola had been signed over into the care of the RSPCA.

Mr Musgrave said: “She was a responsible dog owner and she’s had animals in the past. She’s very remorseful for the incident and she’s fearful of the consequences.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order; total of £485 fine and charges. Disqualified from owning or being in control of any animal for ten years.

Northern Echo
Teesside Live

Ferryhill, County Durham: Nicole Jones

#TheList Nicole Lauren Jones, born 19/05/2000, of Kitchener Terrace, Ferryhill DL17 8AX – left dogs to starve to death in her filthy home

Dog killer Nicole Lauren Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham

Mother-of-one Jones admitted three offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 after allowing two of her three dogs to starve to death.

Dog killer Nicole Lauren Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham

The 19-year-old placed the animals in shocking conditions and left them to forage among the junk scattered throughout the house.

The pets knocked over a pot of paint and left a heart-breaking trail of paw prints all over the surfaces and inside the fridges as they desperately searched for food.

Dog killer Nicole Lauren Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham
Gypsy the lurcher after she was rescued

One dog was found by RSPCA inspectors lying dead next to a chewed up Pot Noodle carton. Another was rescued by the charity but had to be put to sleep because she was so emaciated,

Dog killer Nicole Lauren Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham
Gypsy was lying on the sofa in a lethargic state

RSPCA inspector Garry Palmer attended Jones’ home on 12 January 2019

Dog killer Nicole Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham

He said: ‘I could see through the window that the conditions inside were awful with dog faeces and household rubbish littered throughout.

‘There was a young tan and white crossbreed curled up on the floor dead next to a chewed-up Pot Noodle pot.

‘Two surviving dogs, a young male Rottweiler called Bronson and a grey long-haired lurcher called Gypsy, were both obviously very underweight.’

Insp Palmer added: ‘Gypsy was laid out on a settee and appeared very weak and listless.

‘She barely moved when I knocked on the window.

‘When we got inside, we found a tub of fence paint in the house had been knocked over revealing paw prints on top of the worktops and even inside the empty fridge. It was a very upsetting scene.’

The surviving dogs were immediately taken to a veterinary surgery for emergency treatment.

Gypsy was very emaciated. As soon as she was offered food and water she ate and drank immediately. She continued to eat well while hospitalised, being fed small amounts four times a day, and she gained 45% of her original body weight in less than three weeks.

Sadly, Bronson was put to sleep on veterinary advice. Insp Palmer described the dead dog in the house as the most underweight dog he had ever encountered.

He said: ‘In my opinion this is as bad as it gets – depriving animals of their basic needs of food and water and as a consequence one dog paid the ultimate price.’

Dog killer Nicole Lauren Jones from Ferryhill, Co Durham

The RSPCA had given Jones advice in September 2018, yet she ignored this advice and made things worse by taking on a third dog in the meantime.

‘She could have easily contacted the RSPCA for help’, Palmer added.

12 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months; 20-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; £400 costs and £115 victim surcharge. Disqualified from keeping animals for ten years, with no appeal to have this lifted for seven years.

Chronicle Live

Burnhope, Durham: Kevin Knox

#TheList puppy farmer Kevin Knox, born c. 1959, of The Grove, Burnhope, Durham DH7 0AH – sold poorly puppies without a licence to unsuspecting buyers

Puppy dealer Kevin Knox of Burnhope, Durham
Kevin Knox, who was previously exposed in a BBC documentary on puppy farming, has finally ben sent to jail and has also been hit with a huge tax bill

Kevin Knox, who traded as Ivy Leaf Kennels, sold puppies which buyers complained were sick on three occasions, while not in possession of a pet shop licence.

Two of those sales were made to customers who had responded to adverts placed under the false name of Graham Thompson.

Knox has now been jailed for eight months and given a five year ban from operating a pet shop, following a prosecution by Durham County Council.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Knox was a partner in Ivy Leaf at a premises elsewhere in the village, under a pet shop licence, until March 2018.

A judge was told that the council’s animal health team investigated beyond this date and concluded that the premises was still being run as a pet shop despite a licence no longer being in place.

Evidence was found of Knox advertising on the pet shop’s website and other online sales pages using a false name.

The court heard how in June 2018, the council received a complaint of a puppy, having been purchased via the Ivy Leaf website, becoming ill on the day of purchase.

Enquiries revealed that the purchasers contacted the business and spoke to Knox.

They then attended the Ivy Leaf site where Knox’s business partner showed them a selection of puppies and sold them one.

Further enquiries revealed that the defendant bought microchips and that he took 33 puppies in to vets between June and August 2018.

Knox pleaded guilty to two charges at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court in March – operating without a pet shop licence and giving false information as to his identity.

The sentencing hearing was told how Knox’s licence had been due for renewal in December 2017 and how he had taken until the February of the following year to seek this.

However the council refused the application in April 2018. The business had considered appealing but chose not to.

At the time, it had 30 dogs on the premises and the court heard Knox panicked and did not know what to do.

He accepted he could have called the council to ask but did not. Knox chose to sell the remaining puppies without a licence and used a neighbour’s name, although receipts were given in the name of Ivy Leaf.

The judge was told Knox had since lost his business, his house and his wife; broken his ankles and was in receipt of Universal Credit.

Sentencing: four months in prison for the offence of giving false information and one month for not having a pet shop licence, with these to be served at the same time. He was given a further four months in prison for breaching a suspended sentence. Five-year ban on operating a pet shop.

Chronicle Live