#TheList Sally Wilkinson, born 10/12/1985, of Oxford Street, Blackwell, Alfreton, Derbyshire DE55 5JT – left her elderly Rottweiler to suffer with an agonising skin condition and to become emaciated
Sally Wilkinson was banned from keeping animals for life after her dying dog was found in the worst state an RSPCA inspector had seen in her 17-year career.
Wilkinson pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences when she appeared before Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court on Monday (12/11/2018).
The court heard how her emaciated Rottweiler dog, ironically called Chunk, was so thin and had a chronic skin condition it was difficult to establish her breed.
Chunk was just half the weight she should have been – at only 23.4kgs when she should have been 42kgs – and an untreated skin condition also left her with no hair apart from around her paws and some on her back.
RSPCA inspector Helen Mead, who was sent to investigate, said it was the worst case of dog neglect she had seen in her 17-year career.
She told how she went to Wilkinson’s home on September 4, 2018, after the animal welfare charity received a call from a concerned member of the public.
She said: “I smelt the dog’s chronic skin condition when I went into the house, even though she was in another room. Then when I saw Chunk I was horrified as she was in an appalling state.
“She was elderly and emaciated with bones protruding and she had almost no hair due to the chronic skin condition which had been left untreated.
“The skin was crusted, scabby, bleeding and thickened and she was covered in fleas. She had sunken eyes with pus around them. I just knew instantly she was in a bad way and must have been suffering enormously.”
Inspector Mead was given consent to take Chunk to a vets who decided the kindest thing to do would be to put her to sleep.
The vet stated that 14yo Chunk would have suffered horrendously for a period of time, suffering from malnutrition for at least two months and from the chronic skin condition for at least four months.
The judge, in his summing up, stated it was “sustained, systemic neglect” and added “it beggars belief it was allowed to deteriorate to this point”.
Inspector Mead said: “The photographs show Chunk was in such an appalling state.
“I was so upset that things had got so bad there was nothing that could be done to help her other than end her suffering.
“I am in no doubt that this dog’s horrendous suffering could have been avoided if she was taken to a vet and treated when any problems first arose – it should never have got to this situation.”
Sentencing: Eight-week jail sentence, suspended for two years. Fined £300 and ordered to pay a £75 victim surcharge. Lifetime ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Abbi Mann, aged 36, of Romford Way, Barrow Hill, Chesterfield S43 2PU – drowned two of her three pet cats in a toilet
Single mother Abbi Mann, who has a previous conviction for drink driving, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to two domestic cats, called Max and Bob, by killing them in an inhumane manner. A third cat, Pebbles, was rescued and taken into the care of the RSPCA.
Andy Cash, for the RSPCA, told the court that on the evening of the incident a police officer and paramedics had attended Mann’s home in response to a report of a person with suicidal thoughts and noted the defendant seemed under the influence of alcohol.
Mann told the emergency services that one of her cats was struggling to breathe and that she had pushed him down into the water, adding that she had probably killed him. She claimed that the cats had been poisoned by neighbours, who had been bullying her.
A post-mortem examination revealed evidence that Max and Bob had been drowned with an expert concluding they had been forcibly restrained. One cat had bruising to his neck consistent with being held around the back of the head and pushed under water.
Mr Cash said: “This is a lady, who, for whatever reason, in moments of stress has responded entirely inappropriately and we have to be concerned for the welfare of animals in the future and that would be the overriding concern of the society.”
He added: “Two animals have died at the hands of this defendant and they must have suffered considerably.”
Mann denied causing unnecessary suffering to the two cats by killing them after the incident in July, 2017, but she was later found guilty at a trial.
The court heard she had also committed the offence while she was subject to a suspended prison sentence imposed for a motoring offence.
Defence solicitor Shirley Fitton said her client has suffered with depression, mental health and alcohol issues and she had been as upset as everybody else because she dearly loved the cats.
District Judge Andrew Davison told Mann: “It was a dreadful offence on two poor innocent, little cats. It is a sickening and cruel offence and they were drowned not by being tied in a sack and thrown in a river but they have died in your hands which is most sinister.”
Sentencing: 26 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. Total of £1,365 in costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping animals for life but can apply to have the ban lifted after eight years.
#TheList Rebecca J Tucker, aged 46, of Bradworthy, Devon, and Luke J Morley, aged 37, who’s now moved back to his home town of Leicester – ran a small holding in Bradworthy where horses, cattle and pigs were kept in squalid conditions without food and water
Tucker and Morley, who previously lived together at Boards Court, Bideford, pleaded guilty to a range of charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.
Trading Standards Officers, Animal and Plant Health Agency vets and RSPCA inspectors were called to the pair’s premises at various times during December 2017 and January 2018 and found animals being kept in poor conditions and a state of neglect.
On one occasion a vet found 14 cattle in a newly built shed with no dry lying or bedding or food. There was also a small area adjacent where pigs were housed, and they had no access to water.
On another day a vet arrived at the farm mid-morning to find the animals had not yet received any attention such as food and water that day.
When Trading Standards Officers visited they found 11 horses in a field with no suitable dry area for them to lie down in and they had no supplementary food.
There was also a collapsed five bar gate, collapsed fencing and collapsing netting in the field posing dangers of sharp metal edges and nails and an amount of plastic and burnt rubbish in the area.
Some of the horses were in such a bad state, that the pair were found to have caused them “unnecessary suffering” and so the RSPCA took possession of them.
During the hot sunny period in May vets were concerned about the lack of food, water and adequate shelter for the pigs – sunburn is a significant problem for pigs.
Trading Standards Officers returned to monitor the welfare of the animals and found further issues concerning diet, water and environment and reported their findings and subsequent advice to Tucker and Morley both verbally and in writing.
A further visit in June found eight pigs with a lack of dry bedding and a Belgian blue calf suffering from hair loss, scabs and a significant untreated lice infestation.
Despite repeated advice and intervention, Tucker and Morley made only temporary improvements, if any, in caring for their animals.
At the time of the offences it is understood that Tucker was the owner of the farming business and employed Morley to feed and care for the animals.
The Judge commented that Tucker “shirked responsibility” and put blame of the animals’ state on Morley, even though extensive advice had been provided to both by the inspectors.
Sentencing: Tucker – 17 weeks’ imprisonment for each offence to be served concurrently and suspended for 12 months. 180 hours of unpaid community work. Total costs of £390.
Morley – 12 weeks’ imprisonment for each offence to be served concurrently and suspended for 12 months. 120 hours of unpaid community work. Total costs of £240.
Both – banned from keeping animals for ten years (expires October 2028).
#TheList Sarah Burnham, 27, and Louise Wood, 61, formerly of Hunloke Road, Holmewood, Chesterfield S42 5RZ – mistreated 19 dogs and 3 cats who were kept in filth and squalor
Wood and Burnham pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the 19 dogs and three cats by subjecting them to an environment which was detrimental to their wellbeing between October 2017 and January 2018.
The animals were kept in appalling conditions in their own excrement in dark rooms.
Sentencing Burnham, now of no fixed abode, and Wood, now of Edensor Court, Middlecroft, Chesterfield, were both fined £360 each and were each ordered to pay a £36 victim surcharge and £300 costs. Both Wood and Burnham were also disqualified from keeping animals for life and no application to lift the order will be allowed for ten years.
#TheList Kevin Charles Howard and wife Christine Anne Howard (nee Walker), Park Street, Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire PE8 6XN – battered a border terrier puppy named Winston with a gun and strangled him to death supposedly as an act of self-defence
Kevin Charles Howard, aged 57 (b. July 1961), faced magistrates in Northampton on Monday 20/8/18 with wife Christine, aged 71 (b. March 1947). Both were charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
The court heard the Howards saw their neighbours’ border terrier puppy Winston with one of their chickens in his mouth on August 1, 2017 in a scene described as ‘carnage’.
Mrs Howard caught the dog and shouted at her husband to ‘get the gun’ before passing Winston to her husband as he bit him.
An eyewitness said she heard Mr Howard hit Winston with the barrel of his gun ‘eight or nine times’ as he sat on him, although Mr Howard said he only hit the dog three times.
Former company director Mr Howard held Winston by the scruff of his neck in an attempt to prise his jaw off him but strangled him in the process. He carried the dog out to the drive by his legs, covered in blood from a chicken, as the dog’s owner and his 10-year-old son arrived.
He then said: “I doubt it will survive.”
A vet said the dog died from strangulation.
In a victim statement read out in court, Winston’s owner described Howard’s actions as ‘unspeakable’ and a ‘cruel way to kill a puppy’.
The court heard the dog had previously killed 16 of the Howards’ chickens – which the dog’s owner had compensated them for – and chased a cat inside their house.
Mitigating, Andy Cave said the Howards were not animal abusers but animal lovers. He said: “They’ve spent years rescuing animals, looking after stray animals and cats and dogs at their own expense.
“Their chicken coup could be described as a five star chicken coup.”
Mr Howard reported the incident to the police himself and said he was distraught at what had happened. He told officers he had killed the dog with his bare hands but the court heard police initially told him he had done nothing wrong as he was protecting his livestock.
Mr Cave added: “They did not try to shoot the dog because that’s not in their nature.
“He had to try and get the dog off him. They’ve never done anything like this before and they will never do it again.”
The Howards denied the charges they faced but were found guilty after a day-long trial earlier this year. The court heard the trial placed such a strain on Mrs Howard she collapsed outside court and had to be resuscitated.
Sentence: Kevin Howard – 12-month community order with 10 days of rehabilitation requirements; ordered to pay compensation to the family of £212.50, £75 to the 10-year-old boy and a victim surcharge of £85. Christine Howard – fined £98 plus victim surcharge of £30. The pair must also pay trial court costs of £775 between them.
Luke Keeber, born 03/11/1991, of Fairburn House, Aikman Avenue, Leicester LE3 9JT – violently assaulted a 7-month-old puppy
Keeber, who had pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, was at his ex-girlfriend’s house in Biddle Road, New Parks, Leicester, on June 20, 2017, when a neighbour heard what she described as a dog “screaming”, Leicester magistrates were told.
The neighbour, Josephine Sutton, called the police and they went to the property and recovered the injured seven-month-old female bull mastiff puppy, called Mercy.
During a trial at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Monday 08/01/2018, Mrs Sutton said: “I was at home in the back garden and I heard Luke shouting at the dog. I heard the dog screaming and yelping.
“I heard thudding as though the dog was being kicked at the fence or thrown into it.”
PC Michael Coulter, who attended the home of Keeber’s ex-partner, Candice Wolverson, said in a statement read out in court: “The dog was shaking, soaking wet and not aggressive.
“I called the dog to me and could see both of Mercy’s eyes were bloodshot and swollen. Mercy was unsteady on its legs.
“Mercy was cowering from Keeber and pushed itself into my legs and was pawing at me for affection.”
The dog belonged to Keeber but lived with Wolverson and the three young children the pair have between them. Wolverson (DoB 07/02/1988) of Biddle Road, Leicester, was also charged with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal but during the trial the magistrates decided there was not enough evidence against her and the case was dropped.
Keeber later told police he had seen his two-year-old son pulling Mercy’s tail. He said Mercy was growling and trying to nip at his son so he “slapped” the dog once in the face and then used the hose on her as a punishment.
Giving evidence at the trial, Keeber said: “She was trying to jump round and snap at him. I run at her and punched her straight in the face.
“I did want to hurt her because I was extremely emotional. I hosed her down.”
Keeber told the court: “I feel like a scumbag for hosing her down but I protected my child from a dog bite.”
However, the court heard Mercy was found to have not only haemorrhages in both eyes and swelling to her temple but also “crush” injuries to one paw, grazes and soreness under one leg and lesions and other bruises. The magistrates decided the number of injuries was inconsistent with Keeber’s account.
Keeber was found guilty of animal cruelty.
Sentence: 120 hours of unpaid work, total of £335 towards costs and charges; banned from keeping a dog for five years (expires January 2023).
#TheList Aaron Jay Barker (DoB 01/07/1991) of Flat 2, Cherry House, 23 Redhill Road, Arnold, Nottingham NG5 8GT – beat to death two kittens he’d adopted 10 days previously from Cats Protection League.
Barker pinned 4mo kittens Panther and Baby to the floor and beat them to death.
A post-mortem showed the kittens suffered multiple injuries including fractured skull, broken ribs, brain haemorrhages, ruptured liver and blood clots. Vets believed these were caused by blunt force trauma and contacted the RSPCA.
Barker claim a burglar attacked the kittens. He said he tried to give them a bath to wash away blood and faeces, but as he did so Panther jumped out of his arms, hit the bottom of the bath and died. Panther’s injuries were not consistent with this, however, and the evidence pointed to the injuries being inflicted when Barker was at home alone.
Sentence: 20 weeks in prison. Life ban on keeping pets.
#TheList Martin Johnson, born c. 1986, of Wenlock Walk, Grassmoor, Chesterfield S42 5BJ – subjected his dog to a prolonged beating
Johnson, a backyard breeder who sells puppies on various Facebook groups, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the dog, named Sooty, at Chesterfield magistrates’ court on Thursday, May 18 2017.
Sooty was taken into the care of the RSPCA, and was found to have a fractured toe as well as lumps on his spine and on the top of his head.
Prosecuting, Andy Cash, said: “On February 9 2017 the RSPCA received an audio clip which was the defendant shouting at the dog which is now known to be Sooty.
“The defendant was arrested and the dogs were recovered.”
In the police interview, Johnson made full admissions and said: “I did not beat him up I slapped him.
“I did give him a bit of a pasting.
“I dragged him outside. I went over the top with him.
“I raised my fist at him.”
A few seconds of the audio clip of Johnson shouting at Sooty was played during court. Johnson could be heard shouting at the dog: “If I tell you to do something I expect you to do it.”
The dog could also be heard to be in distress when Johnson said: “Shut it.”
Speaking about Johnson’s cruelty, RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe said, “The audio isn’t very nice at all. It lasts for around five minutes and Sooty can clearly be heard squealing and whimpering loudly while being beaten, and Johnson can be heard shouting and delivering blows to the dog.
“It would have been difficult for someone to have to listen to the beating, however we are grateful that they had the initiative to record it as it gave us the evidence we needed to prosecute.”
“What it came down to was the fact that Sooty was going to the toilet inside the flat. Johnson said in interview that he gave the dog ‘a bit of a pasting’ as a result, and that he went ‘over the top’,”
Inspector Leafe said. “He also said in interview that he grabbed the dog by his testicles and said, ‘You don’t like that, do you?’
“He later called our national cruelty helpline and admitted the incidents, that he had also pinned Sooty down by his ears to ‘incapacitate’ him, and that it was because he was always messing in the flat.
“What Sooty went through would have been horrific and he would have been terrified to be around Johnson. But despite what he went through, Sooty is a lovely dog. Johnson told us that he was aggressive, but since he has been in our care he hasn’t shown any nasty traits at all. Sooty is so friendly and we hope he will find a lovely new home soon.”
Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months; total fines and charges of £315. Eight-year ban on keeping animals (expires May 2024).