#TheList Jon-Luc McLoughlin, born 30/07/1992, of Lagland Court, Poole BH15 1RS – punched and kicked his German Shepherd puppy to death
McLoughlin subjected 11-month-old Lexi, whom he had only owned for a month, to a barbaric beating. When the pet died, he attempted to cover his tracks by leaving her body in the woods near his home where she was found by a group of schoolchildren.
The death was reported to the RSPCA, which led the prosecution against the defendant.
In court McLoughlin admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
The court heard that a post-mortem carried out on Lexi’s body found she had suffered ‘blunt force trauma’, including a laceration to its liver.
She also had blood in her abdomen and a stomach tear.
During a police interview McLaughlin initially tried to put the injuries down to a road traffic collision.
However, he later confessed to the killing, telling officers: “I get very angry and I don’t know what came over me.”
Matthew Knight, prosecuting, said: “He punched or kicked the dog to death and dumped the body in some trees near his home.
“It was found by locals and upset local children who saw it.
“She had a laceration to her liver, blood in her abdomen and a stomach tear.
“It is likely that the dog did not survive for long.”
James Moore, mitigating for McLoughlin, said the defendant was under “significant stress” as he was acting as a carer for his ill father at the time of the incident.
“This episode of blind rage is where stress has got the better of him,” Moore said.
“This is not just some violent thug who thinks it is okay to treat his own pet poorly.”
During the hearing magistrate Martin Arthur told McLoughlin that sentencing options were “completely open” and that custody was “not off the table”.
RSPCA chief inspector Mike Butcher, who investigated for the animal welfare charity, said: “It’s essential all animals are treated in a way which safeguards their welfare at all times, throughout their entire life.
“Many animals have their lives ended due to being put down as a result of illness, age or infirmity.
“At this upsetting final stage of an animal’s life, owners place their full trust in those employed to humanely put animals to sleep to do so competently and without causing the type of suffering Ivor sadly experienced.”
Sentencing: disqualified for transporting (but not keeping) animals for three years. 120 hours of unpaid work; £750 fine.
#TheList Martin Harrison, born c. 1960, of 4 Belvedere Road, Christchurch BH23 1PT – fed his two dogs a diet of cheese and rice pudding until they became so fat they couldn’t walk
Martin Harrison was convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Staffies Brucie and Lucie and one of failing to provide veterinary care after allowing the dogs to become so overweight they were ‘barrel-shaped’ and buckled under their sheer size.
Although Harrison blamed his late mother for over-feeding the two dogs, he confessed to occasionally spoiling them with ‘cakes and doggy treats’.
The dogs were ‘panting heavily’ after being seized by RSPCA inspectors.
During the time Harrison owned the dogs, Brucie’s weight ballooned from a healthy 46lbs to 82lbs. Lucy’s weight increased to 75lbs and she had a chronic ear condition which was not treated.
Brucie’s weight almost doubled from a healthy 46lbs to 82lbs while Lucy’s bulk ballooned to 75lbs after Harrison took ownership of them in 2014.
She also had a “significant” ear condition which was ignored.
The pair have since been put on a strict diet and now weigh a svelte 50lbs each.
Lucy has also had an op to repair her ear.
Both dogs have now been permanently confiscated from Harrison after a hearing at Poole Magistrates’ Court.
Jeremy Lake, prosecuting, said: “Both dogs were grossly obese and barrel-like when they were seized.
“Brucie was panting constantly and laying down in the consulting room. He had fatty deposits around his neck and back.
“Lucy was also overweight and she had a chronic ear disease caused over a long time.”
Harrison, who lived with his mother, bought Brucie and Lucy on Gumtree in November 2014.
The defendant represented himself in court. He said his late mother, who had Alzheimer’s, would feed the dogs fatty food, despite him repeatedly asking her not to.
He said he could not afford to take Lucy to the vets for a period of time, and blamed former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith for stopping his benefits.
“My dogs are my children. I miss them like crazy and I just want them back. I’ve got no one else,” he said.
“Any missed vet appointments can be blamed on Iain Duncan Smith. My benefits were stopped and I had no money.”
Sentencing: total of £280 in fines, costs and charges. Disqualified from owning or keeping animals for two years.
#TheList Richard Thomas Hansford, aged 67, of 70 Mount Skippet Way, Dorchester DT2 8TP – caused suffering to chickens and pigs he kept on a smallholding
Hansford pleaded guilty to four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.
The offences related to four chickens kept on a small patch of land at Lewell near Dorchester.
In February 2017, Dorset County Council’s trading standards service received a complaint about Hansford’s chickens and visited the land he kept them on just outside Dorchester.
They found the chickens in a large, muddy pen with no coop or place that the chickens could be protected from predators or the weather.
At the time of the visit the weather was bitterly cold which meant that any water left out for them was frozen.
The available water was not clean as all the containers had green algae growing in them.
The court heard that Hansford had received numerous visits and advice on how to care for his animals over a ten-year period but had continued to ignore this.
In January 2017 Hansford had signed a formal caution for almost identical charges relating to pigs he also kept on the land.
In mitigation, Hansford stated that he had been a gamekeeper for 19 years and had done his best to look after his animals.
He told the court he had suffered from depression for several years.
Sentencing him, the chair of the Magistrates said that Mr Hansford had caused distress to the animals for a significant period and that this was compounded by not adhering to the advice given to him by Trading Standards.
Sentencing: Ordered to pay £530. Banned from keeping poultry and pigs for 10 years
#TheList Charmaine Victoria Louise Collins, born 02/01/1990, of Rosebery Road, Southborne, Bournemouth BH5 2JH – let 61 animals die in her maggot-infested flat
Mother-of-one Collins crammed 196 animals including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and lizards as well as ducks and chickens in to her two-bedroom flat at 25 Hamilton Road in Boscombe before she was raided by police and the RSPCA. Some animals had gone without water and food for at least a week. Of the 196 animals, 61 died.
The court heard that Collins, who had started a degree in veterinary care, had established an animal breeding business called Fairytales with a friend. However, the friend backed out around two weeks before the flat was raided.
Officials found 48 animals in a small shed in the property’s communal garden. Many of the creatures inside – including 30 guinea pigs – were dead at the time, or died shortly afterwards.
Entry was then forced to the flat, which was in darkness and without electricity. As RSPCA inspector Patrick Bailey panned a torch around the dark rooms, the beam fell on a severely dehydrated rabbit, which was “convulsing”.
Officers were cofonfronted with loosely-stacked crates and cages filled with animals and smaller creatures suffocating in plastic containers.
More rabbits were confined to these containers, unable to move in any direction.
An animal carcass infested with maggots was also discovered. Decomposition indicated the creature had been dead for some time.
The RSPCA had first become involved with Collins in April 2016 over “similar issues”. At that time, Collins sought help from officials and some months later had just two dogs and a lizard.
However, she then began buying animals from fairs and shows. Ten days after she was interviewed by police, she travelled to Holland to buy 70 rodents. All have now been seized by the RSPCA.
Collins, who currently works as an assistant for Poole photography business Lite-Box Imagery, admitted six charges relating to the care of the animals.
Sentence: 12-month community order and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days; total of £330 costs and charges. Banned from keeping any animal for the next 10 years (expires July 2028).
#TheList Robert David Dewar, born 23/04/1983, formerly of Dorchester Road, Weymouth, and more recently Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame, Embo, Dornoch IV25 3QD – caused unnecessary suffering to 11 reptiles, with six found dead at his home
Dewar pleaded guilty to causing suffering to a protected animal at Weymouth Magistrates Court.
He was charged for causing unnecessary suffering to two bearded dragons, a leopard gecko and two crested geckos.
Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Matthew Knight explained the charge related to a period between September 9 2017 and October 10 2017 whilst Dewar was living on Dorchester Road in Weymouth.
Mr Knight told the court that in October 2017 a bailiff was warranted to enter Dewar’s flat and discovered 11 reptiles – with a python, two corn snakes, a bearded dragon and two leopard geckos found dead.
The RSPCA were unable to pursue charges for the six dead animals as it was not possible to conclusively say how they died, although a vet suspected they had starved to death.
Of the two bearded dragons that were rescued, one had to be put to sleep because of the severity of its condition. The other bearded dragon which was described by Mr Knight in court as being dehydrated and “responsive, but dull” has since recovered and been re-homed.
Addressing the court, Mr Knight said: “There were six dead reptiles in the flat and five alive but in a poor condition.
“The reptiles require a vivarium with UV lighting. They were not given this basic care.”
He added that a number of the animals had no water provided.
Mr Knight said: “It is believed that these animals were left suffering for at least a week but it could have been over a number of months.
“Of the animals that survived, they required significant intervention to help them live.
“He [Dewar] knew how to care for these animals, but simply chose not to.”
Representing himself, Dewar said: “I am sorry. I was having a hard time and everything got on top of me. I was trying to look after myself and not my animals.”
Speaking to the court Dewar’s probation officer added: “He [Dewar] was able to understand how the animals would have felt and has shown remorse for his actions.”
Sentencing Dewar, chairman of the bench Debbie Boitoult said: “We have heard details and seen the suffering these animals underwent. You were aware that these animals needed a certain amount of care that you failed to give.”
Sentencing: Community order of 100 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months. Total of £385 costs and charges. Banned from owning or keeping any animals for 10 years.
#TheList Emma Comben and partner Martyn Buckle both of 43 Tillycombe Road, Portland, Dorset DT5 1LF – locked Staffy Tia in a cage and left her to starve
The pair admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier known as Tia.
The offence took place between August 3 and October 28, 2016.
After reports from a member of the public, the RSPCA discovered Tia at the property in an emaciated state locked in a dog crate. She was so thin her bones were showing through her skin.
The court heard how the pair claimed they struggled to manage with the dog after having a family and said that after being left in the cage Tia refused to eat. They did not, however, seek professional help from a vet or an animal welfare organisation for her weight loss.
Inspector Ken Snook said: “The neglect suffered by Tia could have been easily avoided. Sadly she was cruelly left to suffer in a faeces encrusted crate without the care she needed and deserved.
“When we found her she weighed just 10 kilos and was so underweight all her bones were showing. Thankfully she has been successfully rehabilitated by the RSPCA and now weighs 16 kilos and was found a new loving home earlier this month”.
Buckle and Comben also admitted failing to meet Tia needs by not providing a suitable environment for her, contrary to Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, following the investigation by the animal welfare charity.
Sentence: 120 hours of unpaid work within 12 months; £150 costs each; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires February 2027).
#TheList Samantha Jade Miller, born 1978, of Victoria Rd, Poole BH12 – left dogs Charlie and Tia to suffer without food and failed to treat painful skin conditions while she enjoyed holidays in Cyprus
Single mother-of-six Miller told RSPCA officers she could not afford veterinary care for the emaciated animals.
But when an RSPCA inspector visited Miller’s home in Victoria Road, Poole, he was told by one of her daughters that she was in Cyprus for the third time in a year.
Miller pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to protected animals between November 15 2015 and January 5 2016. She also admitted failing to protect animals from pain and suffering, injury and disease.
Miller was visited four times by an RSPCA inspector who gave her advice and told her to feed the animals and take them to the vet.
But she failed to heed the advice and, when the condition of the dogs deteriorated, they were taken away from her.
Magistrates heard the RSPCA inspector had given Miller food for the dogs, but she criticised it.
The animals had painful skin conditions because they were “riddled” with fleas, open wounds, sores and conjunctivitis and were clearly incredibly uncomfortable and suffering, the court heard.
Miller told the court she was in debt and could not afford the vet. She said she was ashamed and did not realise the seriousness of their condition.
After the hearing, RSPCA inspector Jo Story told the Daily Echo: “I think it is an appropriate sentence. If she didn’t understand it was serious, she wouldn’t understand how to look after other animals.
“We really try to provide help and guidance and my colleague could not have done any more. She ignored the advice continually.”
Charlie and Tia recovered and were rehomed by the RSPCA.
Sentence: 240 hours of unpaid work; victim surcharge of £60; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires December 2026)
#TheList for the persecution of wildlife including badgers and deer plus dog cruelty: Graham Coombes, Oliver Blatch, Kenneth Danes, Gethyn Durham, Dean McGrath, Pheon Radford, Ryan Robinson, Joseph O’Connor, Brian Forrest, Philip Cross and Daniel Ravenscroft
Eleven men were sentenced – three receiving jail terms – for their part in a series of “abhorrent” attacks by dogs on deer, badgers and foxes. Graphic and distressing video footage found on the mobile phone of the ringleader Graham Coombes was shown in court, showing dogs savaging badgers and deer as the accused looked on and gave encouragement.
Analysis of one of the men’s phones revealed thousands of text messages, including one in which he claimed to have used his dogs to kill 178 deer, 894 rabbits, 28 foxes and 22 hares in just six months.
Jeremy Cave, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the ‘primary motivation seems to be gratuitous pleasure’.
Mr Cave said the group would go out ‘lamping’ – using powerful lamps at night to startle and stun deer before setting dogs, usually lurchers, on them.
He said their aim was ‘to kill as much wildlife as possible’.
Mr Cave said Coombes was at the ‘centre of the operation, organising nights out, posting trophy pictures on social media’.
The other men involved were Oliver Blatch, Kenneth Danes, Gethyn Durham, Brian Forrest, Dean McGrath, Joseph O’Connor, Pheon Radford, Ryan Robinson, Philip Cross and Daniel Ravenscroft.
Mr Cave said that of the 27 offences, 22 were related to killing or attacking deer with dogs, four matters were of animal welfare issues relating to the dogs – including neglect – and another was the possession of a dangerous dog.
The court heard how a search of Coombes’ land by Trading Standards found a pile of animal carcasses with at least 20 separate skulls at the top of the heap.
The incinerator operator informed RSPCA investigators they disposed of 604 kilos of animal products, all believed to be from hunts.
Coombes also got another person to shoot his severely injured dog after it had been fighting a badger ‘for four hours’.
Details of offences and sentencing:
Graham Coombes, born c. 1975, a groundworker of 2 Abbey Road, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9HZ pleaded guilty to three counts of intentionally killing deer at night on different dates in 2014. He pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully killing a badger and one of willfully injuring a badger. He pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier called Marley by failing to treat its injuries. Coombes was sentenced to a total of 20 weeks in prison. He was ordered to pay £3,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was disqualified for keeping dogs for life.
Oliver Blatch, born c. 1989, Little Acre, Back Lane, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6SQ pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted Blatch was of previous good character before sentencing him to a total of eight weeks, suspended for one year, to complete 180 hours’ unpaid leave, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.
Kenneth Danes, born c. 1987, of 11 Otterford Gypsy Park, Culmhead near Taunton TA3 7DX pleaded guilty to two counts of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker noted he was a hardworking man of good character and his early guilty plea. She sentenced him to a total of eight weeks suspended for 12 months and ordered him to pay £800 court costs, £60 victim surcharge and to forfeit his dog Cruz.
Joseph O’Connor, born c. 1993, a farmhand of Pontardawe near Swansea, admitted three charges of killing deer in 2014. District Judge Baker told O’Connor the killing of deer was “absolutely abhorrent, it’s barbaric”. However, she recognised his probation report showed genuine remorse and he was of previous good character. She also recognised his advocate’s observation that he was of “limited ability” and his “sense of shame”. She told him he had worked in agriculture his whole life yet despite that he involved himself in the killing of deer. He handed him a nine-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. He also had to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.
Gethyn Durham, born c. 1989, a landscape gardener of 36 Marl Court, Cwmbran, Gwent, admitted one count of killing a deer. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a pitbull-type dangerous dog and five charges of keeping other dogs in an unsuitable environment. District Judge Baker said she accepted his dog Bonnie was a “beloved family pet” but his probation report “shows [Durham] shows little remorse and has antipathy for the RSPCA and their work”.
Durham was jailed for six weeks followed by 12 months’ supervision. He was ordered to pay £800 court costs and £115 victim surcharge. As his partner broke down in the public gallery, District Judge Baker told Durham the legislation regarding dangerous dogs “ties my hands” and she ordered the dog be destroyed. Durham was also told he was disqualified from owning dogs for five years.
Brian Forrest, born c. 1976, Upper Lodge, Tetton Estate, Kingston St Mary, near Taunton, owner of Brian Forrest Electrical, Taunton, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. District Judge Baker also noted how he was of previous good character and he had shown genuine remorse. She sentenced him to six weeks jail, suspended for a year, to complete 140 hours unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. She also ordered him to forfeit his dog Eve.
Dean McGrath, born c. 1987, of Cwmbran, pleaded guilty to a single count of killing deer. McGrath was handed a six week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. District Judge Baker ordered him to complete 160 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also ordered to forfeit his dog Blue.
Pheon Radford, born c. 1994, of 19 Cross Street, Pentre, Ystrad in the Rhondda Valley, pleaded guilty to killing a deer and causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. District Judge Baker said Radford left his dog Scar to suffer from an “unpleasant” injury and listed previous scars on its body. She said he had deliberately travelled from Wales to take part in the deer hunts with Cross. She sentenced him to a total of 10 weeks, suspended for 12 months; to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work, pay £800 court costs and £60 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from keeping dogs for three years and to forfeit his dog Scar.
Ryan Robinson, born c. 1996, of 1 Foundry Court in Chudleigh, admitted taking a deer without the consent of the owner. He was handed a 12 month community order, must take part in a 10 day rehabilitation requirement, complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £800 court costs and a victim surcharge of £85.
Philip Cross, born c. 1980, of 20 Bryn Ivor St,Tonypandy in the Rhondda was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. He was jailed for eight weeks and disqualified for keeping dogs for five years. He was ordered to pay £4,000 court costs and £80 victim surcharge.
Daniel Ravenscroft, born c. 1979, of Pearroc Vean, Grange Rd, Buckfastleigh TQ11 was found guilty after trial of killing deer at night. District Judge Baker said she took into account his early guilty plea and his 10 years’ service in the British Army. She noted he had given up his dog voluntarily and his probation report spoke of how he recognised how low he had fallen and the devastation it had caused him, leaving him “so embarrassed, so remorseful and so ashamed”.
Ravenscroft was sentenced to six weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months, to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work, forfeit his dog and pay £4,000 court costs and £60 victim surcharge.
Speaking outside of court, RSPCA Chief Inspector Will Mitchell said Coombes’ phone contained around 30,000 images ‘mostly depicting wildlife crime and the use of dogs to kill wildlife, around 11,000 text messages, and videos’.
The texts contained a series of ‘colloquial descriptions of animals, so for badgers they were described as ‘pigs, ‘black and whites’, ‘humbugs’ and ‘smellies’.
He said: ‘There would be the bravado in terms of the type of dogs used and the successes of the dogs. They wanted them for the fight, for destruction.
‘They might say this was sport or pest control – but it’s blood lust.’