#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 Daniel McPhillips, born 01/11/1993, of 42 Beech Crescent, Denny FK6 6LL (alternative address 50A Broad Street, Denny FK6 6DY)- strangled a King Charles spaniel, bound his head, neck, throat and legs with his lead and dumped him in the canal to drown
Daniel McPhillips was given £20 to deliver a spaniel named Alfie to a vet to be rehomed. Instead, in an act of shocking callousness, McPhillips strangled Alfie and dumped his body in the Forth & Clyde Canal with his lead wrapped around his legs.
The heroin addict then lied to the dog’s original owner, Tammy-Lynn Burgoyne, stating by text he had taken the dog to the vet so he could be re-homed. Ms Burgoyne later discovered the truth after Alfie’s body was discovered in the canal and reported the matter to the Scottish SPCA.
McPhillips appeared from custody at Falkirk Sheriff Court having been arrested for his non-appearance on an earlier date. He denied asphyxiating the dog and dumping him in the canal in September 2018.
A Scottish SPCA investigator told the court that McPhillips had avoided her telephone calls and appeared reluctant to meet with her.
An associate of McPhillips then gave evidence, stating McPhillips had actually admitted to him he had killed the dog, telling him “I didn’t ken what else to do with it.”
Giving evidence himself, McPhillips stated Alfie had escaped while he was walking with him in the woods and he could not get him back. He said he texted Ms Burgoyne and lied, telling her he had safely delivered the animal to the vets.
After considering all the evidence, Sheriff Christopher Shead found McPhillips guilty and told him a prison sentence was a real possibility.
When McPhillips re-appeared in court for sentencing, his solicitor, Mark Fallon said his client now “regrets the harm he caused”.
Mr Fallon added: “He is addicted to crack cocaine, and the offence was committed having taken heroin and Valium.”
Sheriff Christopher Shead said it was a “grave contravention” of animal cruelty laws.
Imposing the six-month jail term he added: “The repugnant nature of this offence is such that a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal.”
McPhillips showed no emotion as he was led to the cells.
Commenting on the case, a Scottish SPCA undercover SIU officer said: “This is a truly shocking case of animal cruelty. Rather than taking Alfie to the vet, McPhillips instead decided to kill him and pocket the cash.”
“Numerous people contacted our animal helpline to identify McPhillips as the perpetrator when Alfie was discovered in October 2018 and two witnesses told us he’d openly admitted to the crime.
“McPhillips ignored our repeated attempts to engage with him and he failed to turn up for two trial dates, which meant warrants were issued for his arrest.”
The SIU officer added: “It is hard to comprehend how tragic Alfie’s death was. As well as the trauma to his neck, he also had injuries to his front legs where he’d been trying to escape the bindings. Alfie was caused unimaginable unnecessary suffering due to the actions of McPhillips.”
Despite his conviction for a sickening act of cruelty towards a sweet, trusting dog, McPhillips’ hapless girlfriend Evie Marie Mackenzie appears to be standing by him.
Sentencing: six months in jail.Banned from owning or keeping animals for five years.
#TheList Nathan Sinnitt, born 17/03/1989, of 26 Victoria Avenue, Wallsend NE28 8SD – masked his pet dog’s extreme pain with second-hand cannabis smoke inhalation instead of taking her to the vets.
Mastiff-type dog Misty was seized after police raided Sinnitt’s home in relation to a suspected drugs farm. Officers found the pet calm but unable to stand or walk properly.
When questioned, Sinnitt and his partner admitted Misty hadn’t been walked or left the house in over eight months because of her mobility issues.
RSPCA officers were called and the dog was taken to a vet but, less than 12 hours later, she was in such extreme pain that she had to be put to sleep.
The vet confirmed that Misty had first appeared calm because of the effects of cannabis inhalation but those effects soon wore off.
Sinnitt failed to show up for his original court appearance but handed himself in to police and appeared for sentencing.
Stewart Haywood, prosecuting, told magistrates that police raided Sinnitt’s home on August 12, 2019, before calling in the RSPCA on discovering Misty.
“Inspectors attended and saw Misty,” he said. “Misty was sitting and, at the time she went to get up, she was very unsteady and struggling to put weight on her front legs and her back legs were uncoordinated. She fell a number of times when trying to get up.”
Misty was taken to the vet, who noted she was also struggling with pressure sores and that her skin showed areas of excessive licking.
Mr Haywood added: “The following day, Misty was seen and had clearly deteriorated. She was in pain.
“It’s the opinion of the vet that, being in the presence of cannabis would have masked the level of Misty’s pain after inhalation, which is why she didn’t feel the extent of the pain until the following day.”
The vet determined that there had been “significant, prolonged suffering” for Misty over a number of months.
Sadly, Misty’s condition was so bad, it was deemed that the most humane action was to put her to sleep.
It was also revealed that Sinnitt was entitled to PDSA treatment and lived just 200 yards from a vet.
Mr Haywood said: “It appears in this case that the defendant couldn’t be bothered to walk the short distance to take Misty to a vet and, instead, decided to take on a criminal lifestyle and grow and smoke cannabis.”
The court heard Sinnitt’s partner also failed to attend a court hearing last week and the case was also proved in absence against her.
A warrant was also issued for her arrest and is still outstanding.
Mark Harrison, defending, said Sinnitt hadn’t deliberately been cruel to Misty but had failed to get her the necessary medical treatment.
He told the court: “These are always emotive cases. The defendant has not been prosecuted for any cannabis recovered from his home address.
“I also don’t consider it to be a particularly helpful point that he should be given any credit for lowering or suppressing Misty’s harm by cannabis.
“I don’t mitigate on the basis Misty’s harm was lowered because of her inhalation of second-hand cannabis smoke. In fact, I’m not even sure of the science to argue it anyway.”
Mr Harrison said Sinnitt was thoroughly ashamed, embarrassed and upset as the dog was initially bought for him to help with his mental health.
Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. Banned from keeping animals for five years.
#TheList Laura Kiseliova, born 14/06/1979, and Raimondas Titas, born 13/03/1981, formerly of Ladywell Avenue, Manchester M38, but believed to have fled to their native Lithuania – imported and sold sick ‘designer’ pets
Lithuanians Laura Kiseliova and Raimondas Titas kept sick dogs and cats in filthy, cramped cages to sell for thousands of pounds.
They set up an online “puppy farm” called Pets313 and encouraged customers to buy popular breeds like pugs and french bulldogs.
However, when customers went to the couple’s house in Salford, Greater Manchester they were quickly persuaded to take the pets home, unaware that the canines hadn’t received vital injections or veterinary care.
And when they arrived home, the dogs suddenly became ill and lethargic after having been kept in dire conditions in small cages or crates in a garage.
Despite buyers being told they were receiving British-bred pups, they were actually getting Eastern European dogs that had travelled over to the UK on a Pet Passport bought by the Lithuanian couple.
The pair were sentenced to years behind bars at Manchester Crown Court in their absence, as they fled abroad before the hearing on Thursday 13/12/2018.
They had previously pleaded guilty to a total of 29 charges, including several animal welfare offences.
RSPCA inspectors, police and trading standards found 41 dogs and eight cats when they searched their previous home in Prestwich on November 18, 2013.
They discovered the pair were trafficking dogs under the pet passport scheme, and selling them to members of the public under the company name Pets 313 Ltd.
Officers also found more than 40 pet passports which didn’t match the dogs at the property, suggesting they were passing off trafficked dogs as those bred in the UK.
The dogs who were found included French bulldogs and pugs, as well as pedigree cats, which were being sold for between £800 and £1,000 each.
The pair were charged with a number of offences, including failing to provide them with a suitable environment, and failing to provide veterinary care.
One of the RSPCA investigators leading the operation, who didn’t want to be named, said: “The front room of the property was being used to sell the animals to members of the public but it was when you entered the rest of the house the scale of this operation became apparent.
“There were cages and pens containing different breeds of dogs in almost every room including a litter of puppies in a filthy ensuite bathroom upstairs. In a large garage at the back we found cages of animals stacked on top of each other.
“It was clear there were some cats and puppies that needed immediate veterinary treatment and sadly two of the puppies that were rushed to the vets for treatment later died from parvovirus.
“There was little sign of proper isolation pens for sick animals or biosecurity measures meaning any animal that passed through this place would be at risk of catching and spreading diseases and parasites.
“This was a large money-making operation at the expense of the welfare of the animals and the unsuspecting members of public who thought they were buying healthy, happy puppies.”
RSPCA SOU Chief Insp Ian Briggs said: “It was obvious that this duo were dealing and trading in a large number of animals and that many of them were not receiving the appropriate care and veterinary attention they needed.
“Some of the animals were suffering from problems such as conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis or had sore and infected wounds.”
Most of the animals have been signed over into RSPCA care and have been rehomed.
Chief Insp Briggs added: “We have seen a concerning increase in the number of calls we are receiving about large-scale traders dealing, predominantly, in puppies.
“We are regularly appalled by the conditions we find puppies living in and the stories we hear from owners who have, just days after bringing their puppy home, held their new dog as he died in their arms from preventable diseases and infections.
“Unfortunately, a major factor in this trade is traffickers – such as this pair – bringing in poorly pups from abroad, without the right vaccinations and documents, and selling them to unsuspecting buyers here in England.”
Sentencing: Kiseliova was sentenced to a total of four years in prison while Titas was jailed for three years and six months. Both were banned from keeping pets for life.
#TheList Kelly Smyth, born c. 1978, of Poulton Road, Wallasey CH44 – killed her pet lizard by throwing it from a first- floor window towards police officers
Smyth was found guilty in her absence of two animal cruelty offences at Wirral Magistrates Court in relation to the death of the native Australian lizard, known as a blue-tongued skink.
The court heard how Merseyside Police had attended her first floor flat on June 25, 2018.
When they arrived Smyth told them she no longer wanted her pet dog and they were concerned she would harm it so they led the pet away to their van.
As they took the dog outside, officers said they saw Smyth at her first floor window and heard what they described as a “loud slapping noise.”
They went to the area where the noise came from and found the skink frothing at the mouth and dying on the pavement.
Officers took the seriously injured reptile to a nearby veterinary practice but he had died on arrival and the police referred the case to the RSPCA.
RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes, who investigated the case, said: “A post mortem revealed this poor skink had suffered a multitude of injuries after being thrown from the window including a broken back, haemorrhage to the brain and blood on the lungs.
“From the point of impact it took minutes to die and must have suffered terribly. It is awful that this pet was left to die in agony on the cold, dark concrete of a pavement for no reason.
“The RSPCA take all cruelty cases involving all animals very seriously and we treat this act involving a small reptile the same as if it was a cat or a dog – as the pain and suffering would be the same.
“This case also acts as a reminder that exotic animals need specialist care and many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on as pets.”
Sentencing: Smyth was also given a 12-month community order, a fine of £50, and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for just three years (expires October 2021).
#TheList Adrian Appleyard, born January 1977, of Springhead Road, Rothwell, Leeds LS26 0EX, and Karl Harwood, born 1978, of Ivy Gardens, Bramley, Leeds LS13 2NH – neglected three dogs used to guard a building site.
Appleyard and Harwood were found guilty in their absence of mistreating and failing to ensure the welfare of an Anatolian shepherd dog called Athena and two Caucasian shepherd dogs called Koda and Sasha.
The dogs were kept as guard dogs on a building site on Hollin Busk Lane, Deepcar, Sheffield and were left unattended between January 20 and January 23, 2018, prompting RSPCA inspectors to visit the site.
Insp Kim Greaves told the court the dogs had been left in three shelters but the roof of one covering two of the dogs – Koda and Sasha – had blown off, leaving them exposed to ‘bitterly’ cold conditions and snow.
She said she first visited the site on Friday, January 19, following a call from a member of the public and when she returned on Monday, January 22, the set-up was exactly the same, with tape seals placed on the gates of the compounds by inspectors still in place.
Insp Greaves said: “The dog at the front (Athena) was brighter in herself but that’s probably because we had been able to get food and water to her but the other two dogs, because I know the breed, we would expect them to be alert and guarding the site but they weren’t.”
Insp Greaves said she could see Athena’s ribs quite clearly, indicating she was malnourished, and added that she thought the dogs had suffered a ‘prolonged period of neglect’.
Fellow RSPCA inspector Jenny Ronksley said she visited the site on Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21 and left business cards at the site requesting the owners contact her, which they didn’t.
Dr Jenny Turner, a veterinary surgeon at Springfield Vets, also attended the site and said that the housing and nutritional supplies for the dogs were unsuitable.
Prosecutor Philip Brown said: “She believed that the period of suffering would been for at least four to six weeks but probably longer. They had suffered either a variable shortage of food over several weeks or starved entirely for a period of days.”
The prosecutor also told the court that Koda had developed ‘behavioural difficulties’ and that a vet had decided it was in the dog’s best interests to carry out euthanasia.
Sentencing: Appleyard – 150 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping any animal for five years. Deprivation order for the two surviving dogs, Athena and Sasha. Harwood – 120 hours of unpaid work. No ban.
#TheList Rachel Louise Goodwin, aged 29, from Broomer Street, Dewsbury WF13 – found guilty in her absence of five cases of animal abuse after four rabbits and two guinea pigs were found dead at her home.
Single mother-of-seven Goodwin was convicted after four rabbits and two guinea pigs kept at her home were found dead. She was due to appear before Kirklees Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 15/8/18 but failed to attend so the case was heard in her absence.
Goodwin was found guilty of one count of causing unnecessary suffering and four counts of failing to meet the needs of the animals under the Animal Welfare Act.
The animals were discovered when a fifth rabbit, named Ginger, was found sitting under a car on Broomer Street on 2nd January 2018 and was picked up by an RSPCA officer.
Further enquiries led the officer to Goodwin’s address. Kris Walker, RSPCA Inspector, said: “My colleague went to Goodwin’s house to see if the rabbit belonged to her but soon became concerned and I and the police attended.
“We were faced with an absolutely heartbreaking scene; the dead rabbits and guinea pigs were in hutches in the garden, some were much more decomposed than others so clearly some of them had been living there alongside the bodies.
“Veterinary evidence suggested one of the rabbits, called Spike, had been dead for around three days, while rabbits Rihanna and Selena had been dead for as little as 24 hours.
“Half of guinea pig Tinkerbell’s body was missing so it was impossible to say how long Tinkerbell had been dead.”
Inspector Walker added: “The hutches were absolutely filthy and there was no food or water.”
“We presume that Ginger was loose and therefore had access to grass which is probably the reason for this rabbit’s survival.”
Ginger was signed over to the RSPCA and has since been rehomed.
#TheList Mason Medford, born 17/11/1999, most recently of Clifton Grove, Leeds – locked Staffy Leo in a room to starve to death over a two-month period; dumped his body in a suitcase; reportedly laughed to friends about finding him dead
Self-styled ‘gangsta’ thug Medford, who also calls himself ‘MK South’, was due to appear to Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 15/08/18 to face animal cruelty charges in connection with the abandonment of the helpless dog, but failed to attend. It was agreed the case would go ahead in Medford’s absence and he was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering.
The court heard that Leo had been purchased for £100 by friends of Medford’s but didn’t get on with the dog they already had. The couple asked the York-based seller if he would have Leo back but he said no and so they asked if Medford would have the dog.
On November 26, 2017 Medford took Leo home to his address with a 25kg sack of dog food that the friend Adele Green had given him.
He later told police, after handing himself in following social media coverage of the horrific discovery, that the dog had growled at him and acted aggressively so he left him in the house – apparently for two months.
RSPCA prosecutor Andrew Davidson said: “The case can be summed up very sadly but very simply. The defendant left Leo at the house in question, locked him in a room and never came back. He left him in the house without food and water and did not return to look after him at any point. When he finally did return he was deceased.”
The court heard evidence from housing officer Sarah Blackburn that she visited the house on more than one occasion due to concerns about the dog and health and safety. She reported they found “squalid conditions through the property, rubbish and clothing and the kitchen was a disgusting state.” There was faeces, urine and splatters of blood in the house.
A statement was also read out from Medford’s mother, Emma Medford, of Bellbrooke Grove, Leeds. She said she had gone to the house to collect clothes in January 2018 and was confronted by faeces and urine. She had not been to the house for months and found Leo dead outside the bathroom covered by a towel. She confronted her son and said he should “do the decent thing” and bury the dog.
Leo was found in the suitcase at Harehills Cemetery on Wednesday January 24, 2018.
A postmortem confirmed Leo died as a result of multiple organ failure as his body shut down. He was “completely emaciated”, weighed half of what he should and there was nothing in his stomach or intestines.
The vet carrying out the examination said: “He would have suffered greatly after not being fed adequately for four weeks.”
Mr Davidson added: “For him to be dumped in a suitcase demonstrated how little the owner actually cared for him.”
Once arrested Medford, who has links to Milton Keynes and Northampton, will be brought before the court and sentenced.