#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 Lorna Farrar, born c. 1992, of Wellingborough – neglected and starved two dogs, one of whom had to be put to sleep
Lorna Farrar allowed her dogs, Staffies Panda and Budz, to become malnourished, underweight and in generally poor condition with their coats covered in faeces and urine.
When the mother-of-two took the dogs to the vet Panda collapsed and had to be put down. Budz was given food and water and immediately began eating. Six weeks later he had put on four times his body weight after being put on a normal diet.
The court heard that the examining vet had never seen a dog as emaciated as Panda whom she believed had been starved for three weeks .
There was no underlying medical condition that could have caused the dogs to become emaciated.
Farrar’s lawyer told the court her client was “well-intentioned” but “incompetent” when it came to care.
A post-mortem examination of Panda revealed she had undigested penne in her stomach – because Farrar had been feeding the dogs a “pasta diet”.
Sentencing: Farrar was originally jailed for 18 weeks but this was reduced to a 12-month community order on appeal. Banned for life from keeping animals.
#TheList Lisa Featherstone, born c. 1978, of Perlethorpe Avenue, Gedling NG4 4GG – kept starving dogs in horrific conditions
Featherstone admitted cruelty to her pet dogs Diesel and Rocky, one of whom was found close to death.
The court heard RSPCA inspector Dave MacAdam visited Featherstone’s home on December 6, 2018.
He had been told of problems faced by German Shepherd Rocky, who was kept in the muddy back garden.
Paul Wright, prosecuting, said: “The dog was in such a bad state that there was a risk of dying.”
Featherstone allowed the inspector into the house where he found Staffordshire bull terrier Diesel inside a wire cage.
“It was immediately seen to be in a poor condition. Its ribs and spine were prominent through a short coat,” said Mr Wright.
The dogs were taken to a vet who assessed them on a scale of one to five, with one being regarded as “emaciated” and three the normal standard for a healthy dog. Rocky was classed as “emaciated” and Diesel was one level better.
“This was down to malnutrition, an inadequate diet for at least one month,” Mr Wright told the court.
But in another month, both dogs had made a good recovery and their condition was normal. Rocky’s weight had risen by 60 per cent and Diesel’s had increased by 25 per cent.
Matthew Smith, mitigating, said: “In many ways, this is a sad case and there is no excuse from Miss Featherstone, simply an explanation.
“This is born out of an inability to cope with financial hardship rather than deliberate neglect of those dogs.
“She cut corners with feeding them and she accepts that. Whilst the dogs were fed, they were not fed enough and not given food of sufficient quality.
“Both have been loved family pets,” added Mr Smith, who applied for their return to her home.
He said Featherstone “rescued” Diesel nine years ago from a pub where she worked. She had Rocky for two years.
But District Judge Tim Spruce refused to allow the dogs to go back, telling Featherstone: “I can’t take the risk against the background of your current situation that the dogs would not be neglected again.”
As part of the probation order, she will get help in “problem solving, finances, relationships and emotions”.
Sentencing: one year’s probation; total of £235 costs and charges. Banned from keeping any dog for six months.
=== We understand that Lisa Featherstone works in the cafe at the Netherfield branch of Morrisons. We hope her employer is aware of her animal cruelty conviction and reconsidering whether she is a suitable employee.
#TheList Vicki Ann Ball, born 28/07/1981, of 31 Mark Avenue, Horncastle LN9 5BD – allowed her cockerpoo dog to become so poorly he had to be euthanised on welfare grounds; denied that the dog was hers and showed no remorse
Vicki Ball pleaded guilty to one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to her black cockerpoo, named Ned, who was found by an examining vet to be in a collapsed state, with his coat matted with faeces and urine. His skin was covered in open wounds, which were infested with maggots.
The court heard that Ball took Ned to a dog rescue in June 2018 claiming that she had found the stricken dog on her lawn. The rescue took Ned to a vet who took the decision to put him to sleep immediately to end his suffering.
During interview with the RSPCA, Ball said she had owned Ned in the past, but had given him away on Facebook ‘free to a good home’ in early 2018. She was unable to provide any evidence of this, however.
An RSPCA inspector visited Ball’s address and noticed a run at the side of the house that was being dismantled and had dog faeces in it.
A witness gave evidence that they had seen her with Ned recently and the dog was microchipped to her.
RSPCA Inspector Kate Burris said: “This was one of the most distressing cases I have dealt with because of the utter lack of any emotion or empathy displayed by the owner towards this dog.”
In mitigation, the court heard that Ball had pleaded guilty and had no previous convictions. It was said that she found Ned difficult to look after due to family commitments and his behaviour.
Sentencing 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work. Fine and charges totalling £584. Disqualified from keeping animals for five years.
#TheList John Knibbs, born 04/02/64, most recently of Polyanthus Drive, Sleaford NG34 7HS, Stephen Gardner, born c. 1961, of Willows End, Bloxholm, Lincoln LN4 3QF, Adam Scott, born c. 1984 of Aber Eilian Bach, Llaneilian, Amlwch, Anglesey LL68 9LR and Kimberleigh Steele, also known as Kim Donaghy, born 24/02/88, of Downfield Walk, Plymouth PL7 2DT
The RSPCA prosecution case against a vicious dog-fighting gang who tried to breed the “ultimate dog” has been heard in court. Three members of the gang didn’t even bother to show up for their hearing and were convicted in their absence.
The court heard police and RSPCA investigators found eight dogs during a raid on a premises in Sleaford, including an American bulldog, a Bully Kutta cross Presa Canario and a pitbull terrier. Some of the dogs had horrific injuries, were scarred from fighting and in poor physical health.
The searches uncovered paraphernalia commonly used by people involved in dog fighting, including a ‘flirt pole’, a long pole with a rope attached and a ‘break stick’, a tool commonly used to break up a dog fight.
Serial dog fighter John Herbert Knibbs (who also uses the surname Donaghy), who was already banned for life from keeping animals, was the ringleader of the gang. His latest cruelty relates to when he was living in Sleaford with Kimberleigh Joanne Steele, but he has also stayed at addresses in Grantham, Barnsley, Stamford and Halifax.
Knibbs was convicted in his absence on charges which included keeping and training dogs for fighting, ear cropping and causing unnecessary suffering to a bull terrier called Baddy and another called Panther by failing to provide veterinary care for their injuries.
Distressing footage found on Knibbs’ mobile phone showed dogs being forced to fight for up to 45 minutes and being trained on treadmills. One video showed a dog tied to a treadmill and forced to run – a common training technique used to build up strength for fighting dogs.
Text messages exchanged between ring members indicated that one fight lasted 45 minutes and had ended when a terrified Presa Canario jumped out of a window to escape pitbull terrier Baddy as the latter dog went in for the kill.
Another text made reference to one dog being able to crush another’s bones with one bite.
Though his current whereabouts are unconfirmed, Knibbs is rumoured to have fled to Southern Ireland.
Knibbs’ partner Kimberleigh Joanne Steele was also convicted in absence for aiding and abetting him in evading his ban.
Messages and photos on Knibbs’ phone led investigators to two other addresses: Stephen Gardner’s home in Willows End, Bloxholm, and a luxury property with its own swimming pool in Anglesey, Wales, where backyard breeder of Presa Canarios Adam Scott resides with partner, Rachel Pearce (she was also originally charged but claims to have been acquitted). A badly scarred dog named Panther was found at Scott’s address.
Scott was convicted for having in his possession two pitbull terrier-type dogs contrary to Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, as well as aiding and abetting a disqualification order for Knibbs.
RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall, from the charity’s Special Operations Unit who investigated, said: “Some of these dogs had been trained to fight and some of them had been left suffering with horrible injuries from fighting.
“Although we never found the body of Baddy, the pictures and subsequent text messages about the fight revealed that there were severe puncture wounds to his head and the enforced fight between Baddy and a much larger Presa Canario was gruelling, lasting a total of 45 minutes.
“The videos also showed further evidence of this cruel and barbaric practice and the suffering of these dogs would have been horrendous.”
Insp Withnall added: “This was an organisation involved in keeping and breeding of dogs for fighting, owned and run by Mr Knibbs, a convicted dog fighter who had changed his name to John Donaghy to try and remain undetected.
“The court heard that this group were set on breeding a very large dog, possibly for fighting which they referred to as the ‘ultimate dog’.”
Sentencing: Adam Scott: ordered to pay £3,000 in costs plus £80 victim surcharge; 100 hours of unpaid community work.
A warrant is out for the arrest of Stephen John Gardner, who failed to attend court.
#TheList Tomas Gabriel Couceiro Ferreira, born 02/04/1996, of 15 Edmund Street, Shaw, Oldham OL2 8EY – beat his Bichon Frise dog with a metal pole in a series of violent attacks, causing her to suffer multiple broken bones and to lose an eye
Tomas Ferreira’s Bichon Frise Skye was discovered with a broken jaw, broken ribs, a broken bone in her back leg and 10 broken teeth.
She also suffered a ruptured eyeball which had to be removed, completely robbing her of her sight because she was already blind in her other eye.
Tameside Magistrates’ Court heard that Ferreira was violent and regularly abused the dog.
When the RSPCA visited Ferreira’s then home in Gamesley, which is near Glossop, Derbyshire, they discovered blood splatters around the house and a number of metal poles with blood on them, including one with white hair on it.
Skye was rescued by a member of the public who saw her in a distressed state and took her to Victoria Veterinary centre in Glossop where she was given pain relief and the RSPCA were alerted.
Inspector Nichola Waterworth went to collect Skye and she was taken to the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital where the extent of her injuries were discovered.
Veterinary staff were worried that the fractured jaw may have been beyond repair as it was an older injury but Skye was able to recover by wearing a special muzzle for a month which held the broken bones in place while they healed.
Ferreira was found guilty causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by the infliction of a blunt force trauma and physical violence.
Ferreira has a history of violence and in November 2017, when he was living in Taunton, Somerset, faced charges of assault against two women and a man. The outcome of his trial is unknown.
Skye has since been rehomed and is said to still be an affectionate and confident dog, despite her ordeal.
Inspector Waterworth said: “The member of the public who rescued the dog said she looked broken and was really concerned for her well-being.
“How she survived such horrific attacks is unbelievable really but she had so many injuries and broken bones there was a real concern she wouldn’t pull through.
“But she is a brave little character and despite having her ruptured eye removed, making her completely blind, she also had to wear a special muzzle for 24 hours a day, seven days a week and eat with it on – she went through all this and has made an amazing recovery.
“The jail sentence shows violence against animals, like Skye, will not be tolerated. I am delighted to say she has now been re-homed into a loving environment where she is being given the life she deserves.
“Despite her blindness she is confident and still likes to get out and about and explore and she is so affectionate.”
Sentence: Jailed for 18 weeks; ordered to pay £150 victim surcharge. Banned for life from keeping animals.
#TheList Lynda Elizabeth Went, born c. 1951, of Lake View Bungalow, Alford Road, Thoresthorpe, Alford LN13 9HU – for causing unnecessary suffering to horses in her care.
Lynda Went pleaded guilty to two charges, namely:
Between July 13, 2018 and September 13, 2018, at Thoresthorpe, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely four Arab type horses, by an act, namely by failing to explore and address their overgrown hooves.
On or before September 13, 2018, at Thoresthorpe, did not take such steps as were reasonable in all circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which you were responsible, namely two Arab stallions, were met to the extent required by good practice in that you did not ensure their need for a suitable environment in which to live.
Sentencing: For the first offence, Went was handed a 12 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. During the 18 months supervision period, the defendant must also carry out 60 hours of unpaid work. Went was also ordered to pay £250 in court costs and a £115 victim surcharge. Two ‘Section 33’ orders were made to deprive Went of ownership of the horses, and a ‘Section 34’ order was imposed to disqualify her from owning horses, keeping horses, participating in keeping horses, and from being party to an arrangement under which the defendant is entitled to control or influence the way in which they are kept, for a period of five years.
For the second offence, Went was handed a 12 week concurrent suspended prison sentence.
#TheList Brendan Gaughan, born c. 1986, most recently of Mendip Road, Duston, Northampton NN5 – dismembered seven pet cats and left remains in plastic bags on their owners’ driveways
Serial arsonist and cat mutilator Brendan Gaughan was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court for a campaign of attacks across the town in the past two years.
Gaughan was caught after an overnight arson spree in June 2018 in which he caused at least £375,000 of damage that destroyed family cafe The Arc, three rough sleepers’ tents and a disused office.
But when he came to court, he asked that 15 other offences were taken into account when he was jailed – namely, a debauched series of cat mutilations and a string of arson attacks in Duston.
The court heard how between August and November 2017 Gaughan targeted and killed seven family pets across Northampton.
He claims the first two were out of ‘spite’ for the owners – but he found the attacks left him ‘satisfied’ and he went on to kill four more in the space of just 10 days.
Nearly every time, Gaughan would set out between 1am and 2am searching for cats, before encouraging them to come near.
He then strangled them, dismembered the bodies and left them on their owner’s driveways or front gardens in plastic bags for them to find.
The body of Rusty was left in a bag on the owner’s doorstep in Northampton
Cat Topsy was left outside the owner’s home in the Kingsley area
Dead cat in a plastic bag was found in a garden in Chewton Close Duston
Mutilated body of a cat was found in Duston
Dismembered cat was discovered in Duston
Dismembered cat was found in a plastic bag on a doorstep in Mendip Road
Cat mutilated and left on car roof in Northampton
Prosecutor Matthew Rowcliffe QC said: “After doing it, he would feel satisfied for hurting [the families].
“But in November 2017, he ‘got bored of harming animals’ and turned his interests to starting fires.”
During an arson spree, Gaughan destroyed three tents, damaged the Outpost Café and its recycling bins and The Ark floating restaurant, both on Bedford Road, set fire to wheelie bins at the Edward Green Shoe Factory, a Vauxhall van and the Bray Learning and Development Centre at St Andrews Hospital.
In court today, the prosecutor shared something Gaughan said during a psychiatric assessment while he was in custody.
Mr Rowcliffe QC said: “[Gaughan] told his psychiatrist he had had thoughts of other kinds of offending, like entering women’s houses, raping them and killing them. He has never done this, but had had thoughts of doing it.”
Gaughan’s defence barrister, Mr Guy Williamson QC, told the judge: “He has expressed extreme regret and is ashamed of his actions, and understands the psychological, financial and physical harm and distress he has caused.
“This is a case of a man with mental health issues that feels isolated and vulnerable in the community in which he lives.
“He felt nothing towards the cats he was killing and he denies feeling any pleasure derived from these crimes.”
But His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey said: “The starting of fires by you was deliberate. And in every case, you did nothing but watch. You failed to help extinguish them or alert emergency services.
“These were deliberate and persistent. When a fire did not take, you would make more effort to relight it.”
However, at sentencing, the judge did not rule Gaughan as ‘dangerous’ – and could only add three months to his jail term for the cat killings.
Judge Tregilgas-Davey said: “Any violence has been towards animals and not towards humans.
“In regard to the cat mutilations… I want to make it clear they are they are distasteful. They are distressing. I do not lose sight of that. But any sentence I can impose is limited no matter how many [you killed].”
Sentencing: Jailed for 44 months including just 3 months for killing the seven cats.
#TheList Reece Donohue, born c. 1993, of Wharton Street, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 7EH – kicked his housemate’s beloved cat to death
Former special constable Reece Donohue eventually admitted kicking two-year-old cat Marley to death, after initially claiming he had been attacked by another cat in the house. That cat, named Milo, was found hiding in the property.
Marley’s owner Amanda Attwood discovered blood splattered on the walls and furnishings after she returned to the home she shared with Donohue.
She was then horrified to discover her pet’s dead body lying on the floor.
A post-mortem carried out on Marley showed he had been kicked multiple times in the head and had suffered a brain haemorrhage.
He also suffered a broken jaw and had been kicked in the stomach and lungs.
His kidneys and intestines had also haemorrhaged.
Amanda had only lived with Donohue for a few weeks, having moved in at the end of March 2018. She left straight after the incident.
Amanda said: “Marley was such a loving cat, he would always want to get everyone’s attention when people would see him.”
Donohue pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a cat by subjecting him to unnecessary physical violence which led to his death.
The court heard the offence happened after Donohue had been drinking and that he had tried to cover up the offence.
Sentencing:12-week prison term, suspended for 12 months. 150 hours of unpaid work. Banned from owning or keeping animals for life.