#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 Ian Ware, born 13/05/1946 , and Ann Ware, born c. 1960, both of Holly Road, Tiverton EX16 6HZ – failed to take their badly injured cat to the vet
The RSPCA visited the home of Ian and Ann Ware in September 2019 after receiving a call from a concerned member of the public.
The grey and white cat, known as Snowball, was rushed to a vet by RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Coggins where he had to be put to sleep because of the severity of his condition.
Inspector Coggins said: “The pinna was damaged, leaving the cartilage of the ear canal exposed.
“Around the ear canal there was a deep deficit in the skin and underlying muscle to the extent that the bone of the skull could be seen rostral to the ear canal.
“The diagnosis from the vet was of a chronic severe deep infection of the ear canal and surrounding tissues. The exact cause could not be ascertained on clinical examination but it may have resulted from a bite to the area from another cat or rodent.
“As a result of this infection, the vet found Snowball to be suffering severe pain and that the infection had been present for some time based on the severity and extent of tissue destruction including damage to the cartilage of the ear canal.”
The defendants admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Snowball by failing to provide prompt or effective professional veterinary care and attention for the severe and chronic infected wound of the left ear canal and surrounding tissue.
Sentencing: four-week curfew order; £110 each in court costs. Banned from keeping animals for three years.
#TheList Michael Edward Levy, born 08/05/1988, formerly of 22 The Drive, West End, Southampton SO30 3AN, but gave his address in court as 35 Metherell Avenue, Brixham, Devon TQ5 9QB – left horses in a field without clean water and shelter
The father-of-five was also found guilty of transporting a pony in a way that was likely to cause injury.
The court heard that RSPCA inspectors were called by the police after Levy allowed his ponies to fly-graze on land at Botley Road, West End, Southampton.
The land, which was littered with several hazards, did not have clean water, shade or shelter.
The fencing was also deemed inappropriate fencing for horses, which resulted in one horse getting trapped and losing a shoe.
RSPCA Inspector Tina Ward described the scene.
“A metal gate between two paddocks was hanging off its hinges,” said Inspector Ward. “The paddock also had a hidden dangerous hazard; a cesspit covered by grass and rubble.
“There was rusting metal and car parts as well as partly buried plastic blue piping. All of these had the potential to cause serious harm and injury.”
Police body-camera footage recorded a Shetland pony being unloaded by Levy from a white van.
Inspector Ward said the pony “had been travelling with a rope headcollar on that was loose. There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body, which is particularly important.”
She said: “If the pony was to lose its balance when the vehicle went round a corner or stopped suddenly, he could have injured himself significantly.”
Inspector Ward added where the pony had been standing was a number of items including a tin of paint and metal ladders.
“These also had the potential to cause the pony serious injury had he had fallen over. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress,” she said.
Inspector Ward concluded: “There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress.”
Sentencing: Levy was ordered to pay a total of £1,233. He was banned from keeping equines for six months.
#TheList equine sanctuary owner Ann Michelle Sim, born 26/08/1984, of Shearford Close, Barnstaple EX31 1AG – neglected and starved multiple horses in her care
Mother-of-three Ann Sim, who ran North Devon Equine Rescue in Rumsam, near Barnstaple, was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping horses for 10 years after admitting three cruelty charges.
The RSPCA visited Sim’s so-called sanctuary and found horses so thin their spines and ribs could be seen through the skin.
Conditions were described as ‘chaotic’ with animals living in foul conditions among rubbish and with sparse and inadequate bedding.
Ponies and horses had overgrown feet and one had to have his eye removed because an infection had not been treated by a vet.
The court heard Sim had set up the centre with the best of intentions five years earlier but had struggled to cope when her personal life fell apart.
Prosecutor Kevin Withy said Sim had been on the radar of the RSPCA for some time before the offences were committed between June and September 2019.
In one of the foul stables inspectors discovered a mare and foal whose ribs and spine were visible due to lack of food. Conditions were filthy with little clean bedding and only ‘a limited amount of water’.
The animals had been suffering for a number of months and there was no control of parasites.
The chestnut mare, Bumble, also had severely overgrown feet and Sim had not called a vet. A Welsh gelding called Tiggy had an infected eye that needed to be removed and a pony, Punchy, was emaciated, anaemic and had overgrown feet.
Defence barrister Herc Ashworth said the 35-year-old set up the rescue centre to “help abandoned horses back to health” and had “no intention of causing suffering”.
“I accept it was not a deliberate act on your behalf,” the judge added.
All the animals have since been rehomed.
Sentencing: 10-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. Ordered to pay £322 costs. Banned from keeping equines for 10 years.
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 Rhys Anderson, born c. 2000, of Kensington Road, Greenbank, Plymouth PL4 – launched a sadistic attack on a herring gull chick causing the baby bird to lose his leg
In July 2019 Rhys Anderson caught a seagull chick, and proceeded to throw him in the air, kick him, and then beat him with a broomstick. Anderson and an as yet unidentified accomplice were caught on CCTV laughing manically as they attacked the helpless birth.
Anderson pleaded guilty before city magistrates to hurting the herring gull chick in Plymouth on 10 July 2019.
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 60 hours of unpaid work. Completion of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and thinking skills course. Ordered to pay £250 compensation to Athena Wildlife & Bird of Prey Care.
#TheList Haley Marie Croshaw (aka Haley Knill), born 28/01/1986, most recent known address Poole Park Road, Plymouth PL5 – for leaving two horses to suffer with severe bite and kick wounds
Mother-of-two Haley Croshaw pleaded guilty to two offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 after failing to treat painful, infected bite and kick wounds suffered by her horses.
Two horses owned by Croshaw were discovered with severe injuries after an RSPCA inspector was called to a farm in Callington by concerned members of the public on May 18, 2019.
A bay gelding, known as Spirit, was discovered with bite and kick wounds which had been caused by a stallion and left untreated.
Upon further examination, the pony was found to have multiple wounds all over his body including an abscess on his neck and a large necrotic wound with fly-strike on the left thorax measuring approximately 4 inches by 5 inches.
He also had infected wounds on his right hind leg and an infected wound on his back right leg causing significant lameness to his right hind limb.
Veterinary experts concluded Spirit was suffering and had been suffering for a significant length of time, with the wounds indicating they had been left for at least a couple of weeks and that the suffering could have been avoided by appropriate management to prevent fighting among the horses.
A second horse, known as Maybelou, was found with untreated injuries that had been caused by an ill-fitting headcollar.
RSPCA inspector Jon Phipps, who investigated for the animal welfare charity, said: “These horses were left to suffer needlessly as a result of irresponsible ownership and lack of care.
“These two horses were both left with serious injuries for which no veterinary attention was sought. Owners have a duty of care to their animals and must ensure they are safe from harm and receive the care they need.”
Both horses have since recovered and found new homes.
Sentencing: 16-week prison sentence, suspended for one year; total of £415 costs and charges. Banned from keeping horses for ten years.
#TheList Fern Amelia Thoms, born 06/12/1990 and Peter David Thoms, born 17/02/1989, both of Exeter Road, Dawlish, Devon – allowed their elderly collie to suffer with a painful skin condition and to become underweight.
The Thoms’ 12-year-old collie, Kizzy was underweight and missing fur when she was rescued by the RSPCA.
The charity first became aware of the neglect of the dog after an anonymous report from a member of the public.
A photograph was sent to the RSPCA and an inspector found Kizzy in a lamentable condition, with missing fur, scabs and pink inflamed skin covering her body. She was taken for veterinary treatment and subsequently seized by the police.
Fern and Peter Thoms were found guilty of one offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Speaking about the case RSPCA inspector Marije Zwager said: “The photographs show just what an appalling state Kizzy was in at the time of her rescue. She must have been so uncomfortable and itchy all the time resulting in her nibbling and scratching herself raw.
“Kizzy’s terrible condition could have been avoided if she was promptly taken to a vet and the owners had followed veterinary advice to manage her chronic skin condition – it should never have got to this situation, and should never have simply been treated with ineffective home remedies by those responsible for her care.”
Kizzy has since recovered while in the care of the RSPCA at West Hatch in Somerset.
Sentencing: ordered to pay £200. Three-year ban on keeping dogs. They were also deprived of ownership of Kizzy.
#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 Joshua Coles, born c. 1991, of Ennerleigh Farm, Washfield near Tiverton, Devon EX16 9RF – filmed swallowing a live goldfish he had just won at Bridgwater Fair
A 14 second long video posted on Snapchat showed Coles holding the fish in his right hand before putting into his mouth.
He then drinks half a pint of beer to swallow it before opening his mouth to show his pals that he had gulped it down.
Coles admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal during the incident which took place during September 2018.
RSPCA prosecutor Lindi Meyer showed Exeter magistrates court the video that was made by Coles’ girlfriend who posted it on social media.
Miss Meyer said:”This case relates to the defendant swallowing a live goldfish and washing it down with half a pint of alcohol.”
His girlfriend posted the video entitled ‘he ate my fish’ and Coles told RSPCA investigators it was ‘just a stunt for social media’.
The court heard Coles was ‘amused and bemused’ by the investigation saying it was ‘only a goldfish‘.
Vet expert David Martin said the goldfish was still alive when it was swallowed and took a swig of alcohol to wash it down.
Mr Martin said goldfish can feel pain and would have died from a deprivation of oxygen.
Miss Meyer said tree surgeon Coles was egged on by two other people who laughed as he carried out the act.
She said:”He caused the death of the animal. There was never any other outcome from his actions.”
She said he had been drinking alcohol and showed no remorse and had been amused and bemused by the RSPCA inquiry and he valued the fish in a ‘trivial nature’.
A probation officer said Coles was ‘a class clown’ who showed off in front of people.
She said he was ’embarrassed and ashamed’ by what he had done.
She said:”It is a very unpleasant offence.”
Solicitor Jeremy Tricks, defending, said Coles suffers with ADHD and depression and anxiety.
He said:”He has very poor decision making skills. It was an idiotic and stupid mistake but there is no malice in him.”
He said people watch him ‘do something amusing’.
After the case RSPCA Inspector John Pollock said:”We are asked why prosecute for a goldfish but they feel pain and have a spine.
“We will deal with it whether it is a large or small creature that has suffered.
“This is the first time in my 30 year career that I have had a prosecution like this but there have been ones in the past when there was the Neknominate craze.
“The expert veterinary evidence is that the goldfish would have drowned in beer content and his stomach acids. If a goldfish was put in a glass of acid then people would be jumping up and down about it and ringing us up.
” This goldfish would have suffered a great deal. It would have dissolved alive in the stomach acids.
“This goldfish was a prize at a fair. We are very much against live animal prizes and some councils have outlawed them.
“At the end of this fair we got lots of calls about being goldfish being dumped on the ground. They get easily stressed, even with the acoustics of being thrown about in a plastic bag that they come in.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and five rehab days. Costs and charges totalling £385. Five-year ban on owning fish.