#TheList Helen Burt, born 04/01/1992, previously of Elder Place, Rosyth, and now Cairns Street East, Kirkcaldy KY1 – kept three Staffordshire bull terriers in squalid conditions
Burt let the dogs, Codi, Mali and Shakira, live in a filthy home surrounded by their own excrement and failed to take them outside to do the toilet.
At Dunfermline Sheriff Court she pled guilty to a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, after failing to provide the dogs with a suitable environment or to meet their needs, between January 11 and 25, 2018.
The charge detailed how her treatment of the dogs would have caused them psychological suffering and put them at risk of injury and disease.
They were exposed to urine, faeces and household debris including open tin cans and broken furniture.
Burt failed to provide adequate water and ventilation for the animals, left them in an unhygienic environment and failed to allow them to exhibit normal behaviour.
She also neglected to take the dogs outside to defecate or urinate.
Animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA investigated the case.
Scottish SPCA inspector Sarah Gregory said: “The living environment for these animals was cramped and filthy.
“The entire property was uninhabitable and appeared to have been used as a kennel rather than a home.
“The smell was an overwhelming stench of ammonia, dirt and faeces that made your eyes water. Faeces were trodden into the floor with fresh matter on top.
“There was litter and broken furniture throughout the property.”
She said the female dogs, Shakira and Mali, were found in a cage in the living room, with no bedding or resting area.
All of the dogs appeared in good body condition, despite the living environment and high risk of disease due to the contamination in the house.
“Not allowing the dogs adequate opportunities to toilet outside the house meant the dogs would be caused stress and potential mental suffering by having to toilet in the same area as they were confined to for sleeping and eating,” she added.
“Burt did not sign the dogs over into our care which meant that we’ve been caring for them for almost two years. As they are part of a case, we’ve been unable to rehome them until this conclusion. It has cost the society almost £30,000 to care for Codi, Mali and Shakira.
“We welcome the outcome of this case. It was clear that Burt was not able to provide these animals with even the most basic of care.”
Sentencing: community payback order with supervision and a requirement to do 100 hours of unpaid work within six months. Five-year ban on keeping dogs.
#TheList Heather Jones, born 28/05/1970, of 42 King Edward Street, Glenrothes KY7 6AW – left three horses to starve in a field
A horse named Zante was in an emaciated state after Heather Jones failed to provide enough food for him. He and two other horses kept by Jones in a field in Coaltown of Balgonie, were handed over to the Scottish SPCA. The animals have since been rehomed.
Jones was said to have been a keen horsewoman, having kept horses for years and competed in shows around the country.
At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court she was reprimanded by Sheriff Grant McCulloch for failing to care properly for Zante.
Sheriff McCulloch also expressed concern for three dogs she keeps and requested further information from the animal charity which investigated the case before he decides how to deal with her.
Jones admitted causing Zante unnecessary suffering between December 10, 2018, and January 10, 2019, by failing to provide adequate nutrition leading to him becoming emaciated.
Her denial of causing unnecessary suffering to two other horses, Toruk and Smith, was accepted by the Crown.
Sheriff McCulloch told Jones: “It’s clear that for whatever reason for a period you did not properly care for one of your horses.
“You did, through inaction or improper action, cause Zante to suffer unnecessarily.”
He said that fortunately Zante’s body condition had improved since being taken from Jones’ care and he was now thriving.
Solicitor Alistair Burleigh said Jones had suffered from mental health issues and had been “completely and utterly isolated” when the offence occurred.
He said: “She knows her failures were quite serious. She is deeply ashamed of how this came about.”
Mr Burleigh said Jones had been highly dedicated to her horses, taking them to events all over. He said: “All that has gone by the wayside.
“She took the appropriate steps to sign these horses over to the SSPCA and all three of them have been rehomed.
“It’s obvious she has a huge void in her life as a result of not having any horses.”
Sentencing: 12-week structured deferred sentence to allow Jones to engage with psychiatry services and for a further report from the Scottish SPCA.
#TheList Natalie Page, born c. 1973, of Pentland Terrace, Dunfermline KY11 4ES – kept pets in squalid conditions
Natalie Page admitted failing to ensure the needs of her pet cat were met by exposing the animal to faeces, household debris and unhygienic conditions.
Depute fiscal Alistair McDermid said a SSPCA inspector had gone to Page’s home on June 1, 2018, and warned her about the living conditions for her animals.
On July 19, there was a return visit and two dogs were removed from the house.
Then, on October 25, two police officers went to the house on an unrelated matter.
They were trying to trace the owner and went inside when they found the front door unlocked.
“There was a thoroughly unpleasant smell and there was rubbish piled high on the floor of every room. The officers believed it was not suitable for habitation by a human and that the conditions posed a health risk,” said the depute.
“An adult cat was in the living room and was eating mouldy food that had been discarded on the floor. The pieces of mouldy food had been there so long they had flies coming out of them.
“There were cat and dog faeces on the floor. The dog faeces appear to have been there for three months.
“Wires were exposed where rubble had come away from crumbling walls.”
The cat was taken away to a local vet where it was found to be in “reasonable health” but required urgent dental work.
When Page was cautioned and charged by police she said: “I’ll get it sorted.”
Defence solicitor Peter Robertson said his client was currently living with her mother while her property was having renovations carried out by the council “to make it habitable”.
Sheriff Charles MacNair told Page: “The photographs taken at the time show the deplorable state of your property. If you want to live like that, I can’t do anything about it but animals can’t speak up for themselves and need protection.”
Sentence: fined £360; 21-month banning order preventing Page from owning, keeping or taking charge of animals.
#TheList Alexander Andrew McGhee, born 27/02/74, of 590 Wellesley Road, Methil, Fife KY8 3PF – battered his rescue dog to death in a drunken rage
The dog, named Murphy, suffered numerous injuries on his sides, lower back, abdomen and neck, as well as the brain bleed which caused him to die.
His owner Alexander “Eck” McGhee, a train driver with ScotRail based at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, had denied killing the lurcher, but was found guilty following a trial at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Neighbours giving evidence described hearing a drunken McGhee return home in the early hours of the morning of 8 July 2017 followed by “yelping” and “scrabbling” noises coming from his flat.
They claimed to have heard an aggressive male voice shouting “bastard” and what sounded like “a dog being thrown against a wall”.
The couple said they were forced to leave the property because their own dog was so distressed by the horrific sounds coming from next door. They called police who attended some hours later.
During initial interview McGhee told police officers that Murray had bolted from the flat after he accidentally left the front door open.
McGhee said he had gone out to look for Murray and found him dead at the side of a nearby road. He said that the dog must have been hit by a vehicle. McGhee then led officers to the lurcher’s body which he had put in the boot of his car.
When asked by officers about injuries to his hand, which he appeared to be trying to hide with the sleeve of his jumper, McGhee claimed that he had punched the wall in temper after Murray escaped.
Veterinary evidence presented in court contradicted McGhee’s claims that Murray had been run over.
Veterinary pathologist Dr Bryn Tennant said he believed Murphy had sustained the injuries from being “hit, kicked or shaken with considerable force”.
Dr Tennant went on: “The outcome of the post-mortem examination was that this dog had been subjected to multiple traumatic incidents.
“The constellation of injuries, in my opinion, were not consistent with a road traffic accident.
“There is a very, very remote possibility that this dog was struck by a vehicle but from what I saw, I do not believe that happened on the basis on my examination.”
“The bleeding around the brain is the same as boxers get when they haemorrhage.”
Dr Tennant said that he would have expected to see damage to the skin and paws or crush injuries if the animal had been struck by a vehicle.
Giving evidence in his defence McGhee wept as he described how he had adopted Murray as a puppy in 2013 and he was “emaciated and full of worms and fleas”.
He described the dog, who was named after the tennis star Andy Murray, as “the biggest sook”, saying he would “go to anyone”.
Asked about the moment when he said he found Murray’s body, McGhee said: “He was just lying there. Just cold. Heavy.
“He had a tiny bit of blood coming out of his mouth. That was it.
There were four or five guys on their way to work at BiFab who asked me if it was my dog and offered to help me put him in the back of the car.”
McGhee’s lawyer, Scott McKenzie, asked him: “The neighbours describe hearing a fairly distressing incident going on within your property with the dogs. Did you engage in any distressing conduct towards your dogs?”
He said: “I’m not going to rescue dogs to hurt them.”
Mr McKenzie asked: “Did you lose your temper with the dog and cause him so much pain that he was in agony for minutes or possibly hours before he died?”
Fiscal depute Ronnie Hay told McGhee he was lying and said he had actually come home from a night out in a drunken state.
Mr Hay said: “Is it not the case that you came home drunk, acting aggressively and you took it out on the dogs and one of the dogs paid the ultimate price?”
He continued: “The couple next door left their flat because of the noise emanating from his property.
“When they returned they spoke of a bottle of bleach being outside the premises that wasn’t there when they left.
“They were adamant the noises were not a dog fight.
“They spoke of a male voice talking aggressively using language such as ‘bastard’.
“One heard slapping sounds and one said it sounded like the dog was being thrown against a wall.”
McGhee dismissed these allegations as lies, however, believing the neighbours giving evidence against him had a grudge against his police officer partner.
Having considered all of the evidence, Sheriff Alistair Thornton said he was satisfied that McGhee had caused Murphy’s death by inflicting blunt force trauma and found him guilty.
Sentencing McGhee Sheriff Thornton told him: “The veterinary evidence provided in that case indicated the degree of blunt force trauma suffered by the dog was substantial.”
“The social work report I have read indicates you maintain your denial of the offence and accordingly there is no remorse expressed by you.”
However, he said that he had to consider the impact of a jail sentence on McGhee’s family and children and the fact that he was a working man with a productive life. Taking all of this into account he handed him a community payback order and a 20-year ban on owning or having sole custody of a dog.
McGhee and his partner have another rescue dog, Dora, who has been cared for by a relative when his partner is absent since the offence on July 8, 2017.
McGhee’s solicitor said a rescue charity [source article states the Scottish Greyhound Trust but this isn’t correct] had monitored Dora and there were no concerns about either her or a guinea pig the couple have.
Sentencing: McGhee was placed on a community payback order and told to perform 240 hours of unpaid work. He was also banned from owning or having sole custody of any dog for 20 years.
#TheList Linda Alison McLauchlan aka Linda Thomson, born 07/03/1970, previously of Seaforth Road, Falkirk but now of Main Street, Methilhill, Methil KY8 2DN – pleaded guilty to neglecting her pet dog, Missy, before the dog’s suspicious death in June 2017.
Scottish SPCA Inspector Louise Seddon said: “The charge was dealt as McLauchlan caused Missy suffering by failing to provide adequate care and veterinary treatment for her health conditions, including a skin condition and overgrown claws.
“Upon veterinary post-mortem examination, Missy was found to have chronic dermatitis and massively overgrown claws, some of them were so long the nails had twisted round into a semi-circle type shape.
“This would have significantly and severely compromised Missy’s welfare over a prolonged period”.
She added: “We welcome the fact that this case has been dealt with by the court and the sentence handed down.
“However it further highlights our push for tougher and more consistent sentencing.
“This level of neglect didn’t happen overnight and could have easily been avoided.”
Sentencing: 130-hour community payback order. Five-year ban (unconfirmed).
==== We received an email from an animal lover who was in court during Linda McLauchlan’s hearing. This was her report:
I was in court …. Let me tell you this is one cold hearted bitch who sat giggling at other charges brought up for others in front of the judge that day. I’ll tell you exactly what I know. Her neighbour reported her to the SSPCA, after she said she had suffocated the dog using a carrier bag. The dog had died on the 17th June and was removed from her garden on the 22nd by the SSPCA for a post-mortem to be carried out. The dog had suffered for such a long time.
The procurator fiscal read out the SSPCA report stating that the dog was severely malnourished. It had suffered from skin conditions that had gone untreated. Its body was covered in open lesions and the report stated the poor dog’s nails would have caused it excruciating discomfort. They stated it would have been impossible for Missy to stand let alone walk. And the little dog had lay on hard surfaces causing sores on pressure points.
In her defence she had said she had treated the dog for fleas, and it had caused the lesions due to a reaction…. (bullshit).
She failed to produce any evidence that this little dog had been ever registered or taken to any vet.
I sat in court on Thursday, and could hear my own heart beating, I was hoping this bastard would have got a lot more. The judge banned her for five years from keeping any animals and told her to complete a 130 community payback order within 6 months.
Her lawyer was a woman who stated she now lives in Fife and is in a tenancy that doesn’t allow dogs.
When I saw the pictures of Missy’s feet I felt sick to the stomach and wished I’d punched her in the face.
Also in the court, in the SSPCA officers statement it said it was the worst case the officer had dealt with in 17 years.
When the judge asked why she hadn’t sought care for Missy, her defence said she had been on universal credit.
#TheList Juliet S Watson, born c. 1976, previously of Lime Grove, Methil, Fife but apparently now living in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire – badly neglected three dogs in her care and exposed them to urine, faeces and domestic debris in her filthy home.
Watson admitted causing unnecessary suffering to German Shepherd Sasha, Doberman Casper and Rottweiler Diesel between June and September in 2016.
The then 42-year-old, who now lives in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, also admitted tying one of the dog’s legs to her neck to restrict her movement – a practice known as “hobbling”.
She pled guilty and was sentenced at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on November 1, 2018, following a probe by the animal welfare charity.
Scottish SPCA Senior Inspector Steven Gray said: “These charges were dealt as Watson failed to provide suitable diet and meet the needs of the three dogs in her care, Diesel, a three year old male Rottweiler, Casper a two year old male Doberman and Sasha a one year old female German shepherd.
“Upon veterinary examination, all three dogs were noted to be obviously underweight, with body scores of 1/9, all weighing half of what is healthy for their breed.
“All three were found to have overgrown nails.
“A bandage was removed from Sasha’s front leg, once the tangled bandage was removed no evidence of an injury either recent or previously healed could be found.
“It is possible she may have been hobbled to restrict movement.
“Diesel, Casper and Sasha were taken to one of our centres where they received care and an appropriate diet. Once they fully recovered we found them loving forever homes.
“I’m happy the courts have dealt with this case, however it further highlights our push for tougher and more consistent sentencing.
“This level of neglect didn’t happen overnight and could have easily been avoided.”
Sentencing: 12 months’ supervision. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires November 2028).
#TheList Alastair Jackson, born c. 1981, and partner Susanne Iliff, born c. 1983, both of Inchgall Avenue, Crosshill, Lochgelly KY5 – failed to seek veterinary treatment for their dogs’ painful skin conditions
Alastair Jackson failed to get vet treatment for dogs Zac and Phoenix, who were suffering from “painful and irritating” skin conditions, resulting in visible lesions and hair loss.
He admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs between September 3 and October 3 2017.
He also admitted threatening a Scottish SPCA officer when she arrived to seize one of the dogs on October 31 and shouting: “I will find out where you live, bitch”.
Jackson’s partner, Susanne Iliff, also admitted causing unnecessary suffering by failing to seek veterinary treatment for the dog Phoenix.
The couple claimed they were unable to afford veterinary treatment for the dogs.
Defence solicitor Michelle Renton told the court the couple had taken ownership of Zac after he previously belonged to Jackson’s father then his brother.
She said the couple, who rely on benefits to support their family of five, found themselves “overwhelmed” by the various health conditions the animals were suffering from.
She added: “They made attempts to try to get them some treatment but weren’t able to follow it through.
“In relation to the second charge, Mr Jackson admits that he lost his temper. The issue was around Miss Iliff still being in her nightdress when the SSPCA arrived to take the dog.
“He tried to minimise the situation during the social work report but he now completely accepts that further action could have been done to prevent the suffering of these animals.”
Jonathan Matheson-Dear, acting for Iliff, added: “She accepts that there are options open to people who don’t have the financial means to seek veterinary treatment and she should have taken those.”
Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC said: “Whatever the circumstances, if you take on ownership of a dog then you are responsible for that animal.
“Your lack of action resulted in what appears to be substantial suffering to two animals and that is a serious matter.
“Mr Jackson, you demonstrated a completely unacceptable response to animal welfare officers who were doing their jobs as a result of your failure to look after these animals.”
Both dogs were surrendered to the Scottish SPCA and are understood to be doing well.
Sentencing: Jackson: 5-week tagging order Iliff: 60 hours of unpaid work to be carried out within three months
The couple were both banned from keeping dogs for a period of just three years (expires November 2021).
#TheList Paul Kyle, born c. 1993, of Martin Crescent, Ballingry, Lochgelly, Fife KY5 – admitted five charges of appalling neglect of a dog named Mercury, who was found dead with an unexplained injury, and cats Mars and Jupiter
The court heard how Kyle had caused his three pets unnecessary suffering at his home, although it emerged Kyle himself had telephoned the Scottish SPCA on the evening of May 1, 2018, “very upset” after finding the dog lying dead with blood coming out of his mouth.
Depute fiscal Jamie Hilland revealed a woman had contacted the Scottish SPCA days previously to share her concerns about the animals within Kyle’s property and, on gaining access, officers found the flat very untidy with an “extremely bad” smell and cat faeces in many locations.
Mr Hilland said Kyle later told the Scottish SPCA he had been away from home from April 23 to May 1, 2018, and had left the dog with a neighbour.
Both cats were said to be in a very poor condition, while a post-mortem on Mercury the dog established he had been hit with an object on the left side of his neck, resulting in trauma, pain and suffering.
“I’ve heard some pretty appalling details about this case and the state of these animals,” Sheriff Thornton told Kyle.
“The neglect seems to be quite extreme and the suffering of these animals, two of which are at least still alive, must have been very great indeed.”
Kyle admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Mercury between March 1 and May 2, 2018, by failing to provide adequate care and treatment and failing to obtain advice or treatment from a vet over the dog’s poor body and health conditions, including injuries to the dog’s face and neck, weight loss and malnutrition.
He also admitted, between April 23 and May 2, abandoning Mercury in such circumstances as were likely to cause the dog unnecessary suffering, failing to obtain vet advice or treatment for his face and neck injury and failing to provide adequate nutrition and hydration.
Between the same dates, he failed to take steps to ensure the dog’s needs were met, failing to provide adequate ventilation, lighting, comfortable and clean resting areas, adequate nutrition and hydration, failing to allow Mercury to exhibit normal behaviour whereby the dog was confined within the house, failing to provide adequate exercise and failing to provide hygienic living conditions.
Kyle further admitted abandoning, without reasonable excuse, Mars and Jupiter in circumstances likely to expose them to faeces and failed to provide ventilation, nutrition and hydration between April 28 and May 2.
The final charge, which was also admitted, stated that Kyle failed to take steps to ensure the needs of Mars and Jupiter were met in that he failed to provide ventilation, lighting, comfortable and clean resting areas, nutrition and hydration and appropriate facilities for the cats to urinate and defecate between April 23 and May 2.
Defence solicitor Martin McGuire said his client was a first offender who had “responded badly” to breaking up with his long-term partner in February, which in turn, had an effect on his finances.
Mr McGuire added Kyle had an arrangement in place during his absence for a friend to maintain regular checks on the property, and had co-operated fully with the investigation.
Sentencing: 270 hours of unpaid work. Banned from owning or keeping pets for life.
#TheList: Robert Goodwillie, aged 29, and partner Levi Chantelle Bissett (aka Levi Hamilton or Levi Mallett), born 26/05/1994, both of Broomhead Drive, Dunfermline, Fife KY12 9AG – for cruelty to a shih-tsu dog named Suki
Goodwillie and partner Bissett admitted that over a three-month period they caused Suki unnecessary suffering.
They failed to provide adequate veterinary treatment causing chronic skin condition, dry eye and overgrown claw issues resulting in complications with her health.
Paedophile Goodwillie, who has a previous conviction for the possession of child pornography, also admitted that at his home on April 10, 2018, he caused Suki unnecessary suffering by dragging and kicking her, launching her in the air, resulting in her landing on the ground with her legs splayed.
Suki had to be euthanised because of her poor condition.
In court for sentencing neither Goodwillie nor Bissett were represented by a solicitor.
Asked by Sheriff Craig McSherry if they had anything to say about the offences, they both shook their heads.
Despite the despicable cruelty the pair had inflicted on a helpless dog, no ban on keeping animals was imposed by the court.
Sentencing: Four-month restriction of liberty orders.