#TheList Amy Rutherford, born 12/01/1997, of Coltsfoot Gardens, Gateshead NE10 9RE – locked her two cats in her squalid home while she went to live with her boyfriend
Cats Lucy and Lola almost starved to death after their owner, Amy Rutherford, abandoned them in a dark and freezing property for six weeks.
In court, she pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal.
The court heard that the RSPCA were contacted in early September 2019 after members of the public reported seeing the “distressed” cats jumping up at the windows of Rutherford’s home.
An officer attended and left an RSPCA card, as well as putting sellotape around the hinges of the front door.
The investigator returned a number of times over the following days and saw that the tape was still intact, meaning nobody had entered or left the property.
Eventually, the police gained access on September 20.
Stewart Haywood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “The conditions inside were appalling. There was a strong smell of urine and faeces and it was dark and cold.
“The light switches were not working and the rooms were covered in rubbish.”
The court heard that bin bags had been scratched at by the cats and there was no food or water in their bowls.
The prosecutor added: “The officer found Lucy. She was opening her mouth repeatedly but no sound was coming out. Her pink collar was wrapped around her hips rather than her neck.
“Her bones could be felt and her eyes were sunk.”
Lucy collapsed when she was put in a basket to the point officers thought she had died.
Lola, who was in a slightly better condition, was also seized and taken to a vets, where both were discovered to be emaciated and Lucy to be suffering from hypothermia.
When interviewed, Rutherford claimed she’d only ever left the pets for a couple of days and hadn’t replied to the RSPCA card because she’d been too busy with work.
John Williams, defending, said Rutherford was drinking too much at the time and suffered from secondary bipolar disorder and depression.
He added: “There’s no excuse and she accepts that. She abandoned the cats for about six weeks. She went to stay with her boyfriend as her mental health was deteriorating. She was a manager in a shop but she had to give that up as she could no longer carry on.”
District Judge Kate Meek said: “You had to move out of the house because it was uncomfortable for you because it was cold and dark, but, it’s alright for them [the cats] to suffer and not you?
“They, like any other pet animal, rely completely on you for their care and attention. When you take ownership of them, it’s effectively an agreement that you’re going to look after them.
“They’re technically no more able to do so themselves than a small, young child.”
The judge added: “I have looked at the pictures and they are quite distressing, as it is distressing to hear the particulars.
“It’s absolutely clear that this was over a prolonged period of time and both cats suffered a high degree of harm because of your lack of care and attention that you must be expected to provide any animal in your care.
“There is no justification or explanation for it.”
Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 250 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping pets indefinitely.
#TheList Ieuan Batten, born 23/10/1996, of Forest Avenue, Cefn Hengoed, near Ystrad Mynach CF82 – beat up his mother after she intervened to stop his savage attack on a dog
Prosecutor Leah Pollard told the court that 23-year-old Batten had a history of violence against his mother, with previous assault convictions recorded against him.
She said this latest attack happened just before Christmas 2019 when Batten came home “under the influence and in an aggressive mood”.
Judge Daniel Williams was told of how Batten’s mother and two women, one of whom was pregnant with his child, were in her house when he went “completely mad”.
After two dogs began fighting, he took one of them into the kitchen and repeatedly punched and kicked him.
Batten’s mother covered the animal to protect him before her son turned his attention to her.
Miss Pollard said: “He was in a complete rage. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the living room.
“He started punching her and stamping on her all over her body.”
One of the women told police: “It lasted for about half an hour. I have never seen such violence in my life and I was shocked – especially when it was carried out by someone against their own mother.”
The victim was taken to hospital with her face “totally swollen and black and her body covered in bruises”.
Batten pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
The court was told he had 20 previous convictions for 49 offences.
Nik Strobl, mitigating, said: “The defendant wishes to express his remorse and he can’t believe what he has done to his own mother.
“He has little recollection of what happened.”
Judge Williams told Batten, who was high on alcohol and drugs during the attack, that: “This was a savage assault. You used dreadful violence.”
Sentencing: jailed for two years and given a five-year restraining order preventing him from contacting his mother. He must pay a victim surcharge upon his release from custody. He was not banned from keeping animals.
#TheList Carolyn Ashton, born 14/03/1971, of 40 Otley Walk, Sheffield S6 3PX – kicked and dragged a terrified dog leaving him frightened and crying
Ashton admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a dog after she was caught kicking and dragging him in the street.
Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how Ashton was seen mistreating the dog near McDonald’s restaurant, on Penistone Road, Sheffield.
Rob Coyne, prosecuting, said: “On July 20, in the early hours of the morning, police were called to an incident at McDonald’s on Penistone Road, Sheffield, to assist security with an aggressive female who was this defendant.
“The defendant was seen by others repeatedly kicking a dog which was with her and she was described as drunk and behaving in a disorderly manner.
“The dog was seized from the defendant and appeared in poor condition and was frightened and crying.”
Mr Coyne added the dog was examined by a veterinary surgeon and the dog was found to be in a poor condition covered in fleas and the vet stated the dog’s condition was among the worst cases for fleas he had ever seen.
Ashton pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal by kicking and dragging the dog by his lead and admitted a further count of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by failing to obtain veterinary care and treatment.
She also pleaded guilty to being drunk-and-disorderly in a pubic place outside McDonald’s.
Sentencing: community order to last until September 2020, with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. Fined £25 and ordered to pay £90 victim surcharge and £85 costs. It is not known if she was banned from keeping animals or if the dog was returned to her.
#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 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.
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.
#TheList Samantha Kerrigan, born 01/08/1985, of Spencer Road, Londonderry BT47 – for the abandonment of a dog that was found hanging, alive, from a first-floor window of Kerrigan’s home
Samantha Kerrigan admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on or before 1 October 2017.
The court heard that police were called to an address in Spencer Road after reports of a dog hanging from a first-floor window.
Members of the public got a ladder and rescued the dog, a female Bull Terrier.
Police forced entry into the flat and there was a strong smell of dog excreta.
The court heard the dog drank two litres of water in a very short space of time when given it by police and also ate food.
A vet determined that the dog was in danger of falling out the window and had been neglected with no access to water and being left alone in the flat.
The defendant contacted police to confirm ownership of the animal but failed to attend for interview.
The court was told the dog was euthanised a month later. The reason for this is unclear.
Defence solicitor, Maoiliosa Barr, said Kerrigan would class herself as an animal lover. He said that Kerrigan suffered from addiction issues and added she was “barely able to look after herself never mind anything else.”
The solicitor said that the dog was supposed to go to a friend of her partner but he had been sent to prison so she had taken the dog.
He said she was “very upset” when she heard what happened to the dog.
District Judge Barney McElholm said if it wasn’t for Kerrigan’s health she would have gone straight to prison.
Sentencing: eight months in prison suspended for two years. A 10-year ban on keeping any animals.
#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
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.”
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.
#TheList puppy farmers Sansha Niomi Lamb, born 08/05/1980, of 1 Draycott Place, Dronfield Woodhouse, Dronfield S18 8RY, and her father Peter Lamb, born 26/10/1949, of 72 Ashford Road, Dronfield Woodhouse, Dronfield S18 8RT
Sansha Lamb admitted 12 offences and her father Peter Lamb admitted 11 offences relating to the dogs at Unstone House, on Whittington Lane, at Unstone, near Dronfield S18 4DQ.
Prosecuting solicitor Deborah Cartwright said the puppy farm was raided by animal health officers from NE Derbyshire District Council on January 9, 2019, with RSPCA officers and a vet after complaints had been received about concerns for the animals and officers had visited the site.
District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “It’s frankly – in the 30 years I have been involved in criminal law – one of the worst cases I have come across in terms of systematic neglect, selfish behaviour and the abuse of animals for commercial gain.
“It is clear to me that the problems in the period of January 2 to 9 covered by the charges were not isolated to that period of time.
“It’s also clear to me that Miss Lamb and to a lesser extent Peter Lamb should not have had anything to do with the breeding or keeping of animals.”
He added: “The fact that what was revealed on January 9 when the council, a vet and others went into the premises of Unstone House was frankly a horror story.”
Ms Cartwright, prosecuting for the council, added that officers found kennel floors and walls covered in excrement and a yard was filthy with faecal contamination and dogs were found with faeces matted into their fur. She told the court the final kennel in one block had the worst conditions.
Ms Cartwright said: “The final one represents the worst conditions and consisted of an enclosed room with doors and windows shut with no ventilation and the heating was left on and as officers entered they were hit by an overwhelming smell of ammonia along with dog faeces covering the whole floor.
“The concentration was such it made the vet gag and it made her eyes burn and she was unable to remain in the room at all until the windows and the doors were open for minutes.”
Ms Cartwright added: “One of the officers was observed outside the room retching badly and he was unable to go in. The dogs inside that room would have experienced the same reaction to the ammonia.” Investigators also found a whelping box in the house, where both defendants lived at the time, with a pug bitch and two puppies and their pen was covered in faeces and there was no food or water, according to Ms Cartwright.
She added that a further deformed dog approached officers in the hall which was covered in faeces and stank of ammonia.
Ms Cartwright said that officers also found a decomposing pug-type bitch in a dog basket covered in newspaper which had been dead for some time.
Officers discovered 25 mistreated dogs including the deceased pug, German Shepherds, a Dalmatian, Bulldogs, pugs, a Cockapoo, a Cocker Spaniels and puppies.
Many were emaciated or lean, according to Ms Cartwright, covered in faeces and urine, riddled with lice, skin lesions, infections and parasites and some were lame and injured and traumatised by their mistreatment.
Ms Cartwright said Sansha Lamb had been the holder of a licence to breed puppies and she had ignored warnings after visits to the site and she was sent a letter stating her licence had expired.
She told investigators she had mental health issues and she was not aware of the suffering or conditions the animals were experiencing.
Peter Lamb admitted responsibility for the care of the animals.
Ms Cartwright said: “Miss Lamb ignored previous advice and warnings regarding the treatment of the animals and she allowed a person with insufficient experience or training to have care of the animals.”
Sansha Lamb and Peter Lamb both pleaded guilty to nine counts of failing to ensure the welfare needs of dogs and to a further two counts each of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs between January 2 and January 9, 2019.
Sansha Lamb also pleaded guilty to breeding dogs without a licence between July, 2018, and January, 2019.
Defence solicitor David Gittins mother-of-seven Sansha Lamb is of previous good character and has been a dog breeder for several years without any previous problems but she had suffered from the breakdown of a difficult relationship and she started using cocaine.
He added that while she had recently been pregnant she struggled with her mental health and she had asked others to assist with the dogs.
Defence solicitor Martin Pizzey said retired parks authority worker Peter Lamb had no commercial interest and he became involved as problems emerged and he was trying to help his daughter.
Sentencing: Sansha Lamb was given 16 weeks of custody suspended for two years with a 16-week curfew. She was ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £115 victim surcharge. Peter Lamb was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a 12-week curfew and Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
Sansha Lamb was also banned from keeping animals for life and Peter Lamb was banned from keeping dogs for five years.