Tag Archives: financial difficulty defence

Poole, Dorset: Christine and Clare Hawkins

#TheList Christine Jane Hawkins, born 30/09/1958, and daughter Clare Louise Hawkins, born 23/12/1992, both of Dewlish Close, Canford Heath, Poole BH17 8AQ – failed to get veterinary treatment for a gravely ill elderly dog

Clare and Christine Hawkins
Aspiring actor Clare Hawkins and her mother Christine Hawkins only received a five-year ban on keeping animals.

Crossbreed Honey was discovered collapsed and motionless at the home of Christine and Clare Hawkins by RSPCA Inspector Patrick Bailey, who described her as “the skinniest living dog” he had ever seen, with every bone in her body clearly visible.

The dog, whom her owners claimed was 19 years old, was rushed to the vets who identified a catalogue of serious health problems including kidney disease, dental decay and conjunctivitis. Her claws were overgrown indicating that she was never exercised. Horrifyingly her owners admitted they hadn’t taken her to the vet for 12 years.

Honey, who had been starved and neglected by her cruel owners
The emaciated dog was motionless when discovered by an RSPCA inspector, who initially thought she had died.

Sadly she was too poorly to be saved and was put to sleep.

Now the Hawkins have been banned from keeping any animal for five years after admitting charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal over a three-month period in 2019.

Christine Hawkins

Prosecuting for the RSPCA, Matthew Knight said records showed Honey had not been to the vet since 2007, adding “it was obvious this dog needed help”.

The dog had been with the family since she was a puppy. Clare Hawkins was, they said, aged around seven at the time when they first got the pet.

Graphic images were shown in court which showed Honey’s protruding ribs and pelvis bones.

Honey, who had been starved and neglected by her cruel owners

Ben Schofield, mitigating on behalf of Christine Hawkins, said the mother had been struggling to accept that she allowed Honey to suffer.

“It was an incompetence by Ms Hawkins to not properly care for the animal,” said Mr Schofield.

Mark Price, mitigating for Clare Hawkins, said she broke down in tears when being interviewed and had tried to get help for Honey.

Honey, who had been starved and neglected by her cruel owners

Before she contacted the RSPCA, she attempted to get assistance from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) but the charity said they needed to see proof of her mother’s benefit top-up before they could provide support.

Clare Hawkins
Clare Hawkins

Mr Price said when Clare Hawkins got home from work one day and discovered the dog could not stand, she spent the night by her side. She spoke to a veterinary friend and they advised her to call the RSPCA.

“She did the best she could for the dog but in an incompetent way,” said Mr Price.

Magistrate Ian Kendall said: “The photographs say it all. Absolutely appalling treatment of a poor, defenceless animal.”

Sentencing:

Christine Hawkins: 120 hours of unpaid community work.
Clare Hawkins: 60 hours of unpaid community work.
Both defendants were ordered to pay £300 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.
Both were banned from keeping animals for just five years (expires July 2025).

Mirror
Bournemouth Echo

Ferguslie Park, Paisley: Owen Gillespie

#TheList Owen Anthony Gillespie, born 09/02/1979, of 17 Westwood Gardens, Paisley PA3 1NA – left a desperately ill dog in agony and locked in a cage

Convicted dog abuser Owen Gillespie from Paisley, Renfrewshire

Gillespie failed to take his pet Staffy, Stella, to the vet to treat a chronic ear condition and an injured foot.

The nine-year-old dog was also suffering from a severe oesophageal condition which left her vomiting violently and in pain.

This resulted in her having to be euthanised by the Scottish SPCA as her condition was too severe to be treated.

The SSPCA attended at Gillespie’s home on April 25, 2019, after they received a call to say a dog could be heard screaming in pain at the property.

When they arrived around 10.45am they found the bull terrier vomiting in a cage in the living room and Gillespie told the officers she had been sick for a few days.

The court heard that Gillespie had not taken the dog to the vet as he couldn’t afford it.

Procurator fiscal depute Laura Wilcox said: “The SSPCA officer explained to Gillespie the reason for her visit and asked if she could view the dog.

“He agreed and invited her into the property where she saw the dog in a cage in the living room.

Staffy Stella, who was neglected by her owner to the extent that she had to be put to sleep

“The dog was in a good bodily condition and seemed bright but she was concerned because the flooring of the cage was covered in watery vomit and the dog was retching as if it was going to be sick.

“He informed the officer that she had eaten the outer covering of a tennis ball a few days prior.

“He let her out of the cage and the officer saw that the dog was lame on her right leg.”

Gillespie was told that the dog would have to receive treatment and that he would qualify for financial help from PDSA as he was unemployed.

It was once the dog was treated by the animal charity’s vet that the full extent of her condition was discovered.

Ms Wilcox added: “Her right front foot was inflamed and there was a nail that was loose. Both ear canals were inflamed, thickened, narrowed and were infected by bacteria and yeast. There was a smell coming from both ears.

“Her abdomen was tense and uncomfortable and it was found that her stomach wall was thickened and that her oesophagus was inflamed and flaccid.

“This meant it was ineffective at propelling food to her stomach.

“Her condition continued to worsen and she continued to vomit and at this point it was decided the best course of action was to euthanise her.”

The court heard the vet had concluded that if Gillespie had sought vet treatment for his dog within an appropriate time, he would have lessened the suffering.

However, prosecutors could not say whether the dog would have survived due to the severity of the stomach condition.

Staffy Stella, who was neglected by her owner to the extent that she had to be put to sleep

Gillespie pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to his dog between February and April 2019 by failing to seek adequate care to treat an injured foot, persistent vomiting and an ear condition.

His lawyer, Amy Spencer said: “He has already paid a penalty in regards to this as he has lost his much-loved dog.

“This is a heartbreaking case for him. He is still completely traumatised.

“He is embarrassed by his actions and he knows he ought to have sought treatment for Stella. He has worked his whole adult life and recently lost his job.

“He really was hoping she would have made a recovery.”

Sentencing: ordered to pay a £500 fine. Banned from keeping dogs for just one year.

Daily Record

Stanley, County Durham: David Morton

#TheList David Morton, born c. 1992, of Jane Street, Stanley DH9 7BH – left his husky dog to suffer with a broken leg for more than four weeks.

David Morton, who is no stranger to the courts, told magistrates he didn't "give a monkeys'after being convicted for leaving his pet dog to suffer in agony with a broken leg
Morton, who is no stranger to the courts, told magistrates he didn’t “give a monkeys’after being convicted for leaving his pet dog to suffer in agony with a broken leg

Serial headcase David Morton was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal for failing to get veterinary treatment for his pet husky’s broken leg. The cause of the dog’s injury was unexplained.

Morton, who was recently given community service after sending human faeces to a police officer, told magistrates that he “didn’t give a monkey’s” what they said and would have two dogs by the weekend.

Husky Sendi who was mistreated and neglected by her uncaring owner David Morton
Husky Sendi who was mistreated and neglected by her uncaring owner David Morton

Kevin Campbell, prosecuting on behalf of RSPCA, said the charity became involved after a veterinary surgeon contacted them to raise concerns about Morton’s dog, a female husky named Sendi.

He said: “On the 22nd July [2019] the dog was seen by a vet who conceded that the dog had a fracture to her leg and the injury was four to six weeks old. The dog had either been untreated or treated inadequately.

“She concluded that the dog was clearly suffering as a result of the failure to give it any proper treatment.”

The dog had a broken femur and was unable to walk when she was seen by a vet.

Mr Campbell added: “When inspectors attended the address they could see the dog was unable to stand on its hind leg.

“A male answered the door and said he was the defendant, the inspector asked him about the dog in question and he was uncooperative – referring to him as a donkey.

“The defendant told him to f*** off, he was not allowed to enter the property and police had to be called to help him.”

PIctured is convicted dog abuser David Morton outside court

Paul Donohue, mitigating, said the 28-year-old had not set out to harm his own dog.

He said: “The actual injury has not been caused on purpose. It was caused accidentally and the complaint is that the dog did not have the proper treatment. He accepts that the dog did not have an operation but that wasn’t for lack of trying.

PIctured is convicted dog abuser David Morton outside court

“Like many people he does not have insurance so if anything happens it would fall to him to pay for it.

“If he had £5,000 there and then he would have spent it on the dog.

“He didn’t want the dog to suffer but he just has not got the money.”

Sendi was treated by the RSPCA and remains in their care.

Sentencing: ordered to pay £480 costs. Banned from keeping animals for five years. Morton is already serving a community order for a previous offence.

Northern Echo

Littlemore, Oxford: Martin Edwards

#TheList Martin Edwards, born 14/11/1971, of Falcon Close, Oxford OX4 6EY – for failing to treat his dog’s chronic skin condition

Callous Martin Edwards from Oxford failed to get his pet dog the treatment he needed for his painful skin condition.
Callous Martin Edwards failed to get his pet dog the treatment he needed for his painful skin condition.

Edwards was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to his Labrador-Staffie cross called Terror by failing to treat his painful allergic dermatitis between 20 February and 20 March 2019.

RSPCA inspector Andy Eddy investigated Edwards after receiving a report of a neglected dog.

When Inspector Eddy arrived at Edwards’ home he noticed Terror was chewing on his back leg and there were bald patches in his fur.

Inspector Eddy advised Edwards to take his dog to the vet and gave him a voucher towards the costs. He failed to do so despite repeated advice and on 20 March Inspector Eddy took Terror to the vet himself.

Later that day an order was issued by Thames Valley Police to seize the dog.

Terror was found to be unwell, and the vet who later examined him said his body looked sore with lesions on his legs and an abdomen that looked infected. The vet also found mites in his skin.

During interview Edwards said how upset he was with himself he was for letting it get to the point where Terror was taken from him.

Edwards also revealed he had recently lost his mother and had been made redundant from BMW just before Christmas and as a result was struggling financially.

Terror went on to make a full recovery in the care of the RSPCA.

Sentencing: 18-month community order; total of £125 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for two years.

Oxford Mail

Shropshire Union Canal, Nantwich: Brendan Murphy

#TheList Brendan Murphy, born c. 1967, of Nantwich – stabbed his dog twice before throwing her into the canal to drown

Murphy, who lives on a barge on the Shropshire Union Canal, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to his poorly Akita dog , Tara, by stabbing her twice, chaining a heavy weight around her body and dumping her in the canal to drown.

The court heard how Tara’s body was seen floating in the Shropshire Union canal at Nantwich on October 6, 2018, and police were called. Officers then alerted the RSPCA

Inspector Andy Harris investigated and took the dog’s body to the vets, where a post mortem examination revealed she had been suffering from a lung disease for a number of weeks.

The vet also found she had been stabbed twice before her body entered the canal. Due to the state of decomposition her body had been in the water for about three weeks.

Some patches of fur missing on Tara’s body suggested the propeller of a barge had come into contact with her under water and this had freed her body from the item used to weigh her down.

Her microchip revealed she was owned by Murphy so Inspector Harris visited his address and he admitted Tara was his.

During interview, Murphy admitted he was aware Tara was unwell with a lung condition and had sought veterinary advice but could not afford the treatment.

He said she had died on the canal barge and so he buried her in woodland near Crewe where he was moored at the time.

He said in interview that he went to the spot where he buried her to pay his respects a few times but claimed about two weeks later her body had been dug up and said he had no idea how she ended up in the canal.

As it was suspected Tara had drowned, samples of her bone marrow were sent away for forensic testing – the first time this technique has been used in an RSPCA prosecution.

The test showed that Tara died from drowning.

In a witness statement, an expert vet told the court: “It is my expert opinion that Tara was suffering as a result of underlying ill health at the time of her death.

“It is further my expert opinion that Tara was alive when she was placed in the canal and that she was deliberately anchored down with a length of chain.

“The cause of death in Tara is hence in my expert opinion drowning.”

Inspector Harris said: “Poor Tara had a lung disease which was left untreated and therefore she was left suffering will this illness for a number of weeks.

“She was then stabbed in the abdomen twice before being thrown alive into the canal, where she drowned.

“It is upsetting to think about what she must have endured during her final moments.”

Sentencing: 10-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay a total of £415 in costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Nantwich News

Chesterfield, Derbyshire: James Drury

#TheList James Drury, born 31/07/1994 of 5 Coniston Way, Chesterfield S41 8JF – for allowing his pet dog to starve almost to death

Animal abuser James Drury of Chesterfield, UK

Nine-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Dibbley was said to be just one day from death when he was discovered in a bedroom in James Drury’s stinking property. The dog was so thin that every bone in his body was visible through his fur.

James Drury of Chesterfield left his pet dog Dibbley to starve

The RSPCA attended the property after being alerted by police concerned for the dog’s welfare.

As RSPCA Inspector Dave McAdam entered the property he was confronted with the smell of faeces and urine.

In the bedroom of the property, he found Dibbley in a severely emaciated state. Inspector McAdam said: This was amongst the most emaciated dogs I have ever seen that was still alive.

“The dog was so weak he had trouble walking due to the loss of muscle mass, with experience of nearly thirty years as an RSPCA inspector I knew this dog was close to death.

“There was again a large amount of faeces on the bedroom floor where the dog was being kept. Within the bedroom I did see a small amount of water in a steel bowl provided for the dog, but no food.”

Inspector McAdam had to carry the dog, estimated to be around nine years old, from the property and took him to a vet for treatment.

In a witness statement the vet who assessed Dibbley described him as “a walking skeleton”.

He said: “Every major bone in this dog’s body was clearly prominent and evident, he was literally a walking skeleton. This was amongst the worst cases of emaciation I have ever seen, this dog was no more than a day or so away from death. “

At the time of his rescue Dibbley weighed 8.9kgs but was put on a specialist diet and within six weeks he weighed 20.35 kgs.

Animal abuser James Drury of Chesterfield, UK

In mitigation the court was told that Drury was suffering from stress at the time and financial hardship.

Dibbley is currently in RSPCA care and he will be re-homed soon.

Sentencing: 18-month community order with 19-day “thinking skills” programme and a 12-day rehabilitation requirement. Ordered to pay a total of £685 fine, costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Derbyshire Times

Bell Green, Coventry: Darren Haywood

#TheList Darren ‘Daz’ Haywood, born c. 1982, of Chaloner Close, Bell Green, Coventry CV2 1UE – allowed his two dogs to become severely underweight and failed to get treatment for their skin condition

Animal abuser Darren 'Daz' Haywood of Coventry and his neglected dogs Tyson and Missy

Haywood was found guilty in his absence of three animal welfare offences, including causing unnecessary suffering.

The court heard how his Staffies, named Tyson and Missy, were severely underweight and suffering an untreated skin condition which had led to fur loss.

A concerned member of the public reported the matter to the RSPCA and Inspector Helen Smith was sent to investigate on March 4, 2019.

She found the dogs at Haywood’s address and could see immediately they both were underweight and appeared to have fur loss caused by a skin condition – they also smelt from the infection.

She was given permission to take them for veterinary treatment where the vet concluded both pets had suffered unnecessarily.
He found Tyson, aged 8, weighed 14.5kgs when a normal weight would have been 18-20kgs. His bones were protruding and he was constantly scratching due to a skin infection which had led to fur loss.

Missy, also aged 8, was also underweight at 15.2 kgs and again was constantly scratching due to a severe skin infection. Both dogs have now recovered in RSPCA care and will be available for re-homing soon.

Inspector Helen Smith said: “It was clear from the smell of the dogs and their appearance that both had a severe infection and they were constantly scratching.

“They were also clearly underweight as many of their bones were protruding.

“There is never an excuse not to feed your pets or to leave them suffering when they should be taken immediately to a vets.

“Many vets will offer a payment plan to help spread the cost and there are charities who can help with vet bills.”

Haywood failed to appear for a previous hearing and was sentenced in his absence. He was later arrested but failed to appear for a sentencing hearing. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was finally brought before the court for sentencing.

In mitigation, the court was told Haywood suffered financial hardship.

Sentencing: 12-month community order with four-month curfew; 15-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement; ordered to pay a £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for five years.

Coventry Observer

Overstone, Northampton: Thomas Keenan

#TheList Thomas J Keenan, born 1972, of Hamsterly Park, Northampton NN3 5DX – failed to get treatment for his pet cat’s serious leg injury; leg amputated

Cat abuser Thomas Keenan from Northampton, UK

Keenan pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to his cat, Beauty, when he appeared before magistrates.

The court heard how the RSPCA were called in after receiving reports from a concerned member of the public who said Beauty had a serious leg injury that had not been treated.

RSPCA Inspector Michelle Hare visited on July 13, 2019, and could see that there was a problem with Beauty’s back left leg.

Neglected cat Beauty

The leg was twisted inwards and looked floppy, the cat was unable to put any weight on it so, with Keenan’s permission, she took Beauty for veterinary treatment.

The vet said that Beauty had a broken femur and the bone had rubbed on her skin causing an abscess that had become infected.

He added that he estimated the pet had suffered for about three weeks.

Beauty had her leg amputated but has made a great recovery and has now been rehomed by the RSPCA.

Inspector Hare said: “We still are not sure how Beauty came to be injured but believed she may have been involved in a car accident.

“She had a nasty injury and she was struggling to walk so should have been taken to the vets straight away. Many vets will offer a payment plan to help spread the cost and there are charities who can help with vet bills.”.”

His other two cats will also be rehomed by the RSPCA.

In mitigation, the court was told that Keenan was aware of the injury but could not afford veterinary treatment.

Sentencing: 120 hours of unpaid work; £385 costs. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Northampton Chronicle

Hartlepool, County Durham: Michaela Durkin

#TheList Michaela Alison Durkin, born c. 1995, of Jesmond Gardens, Hartlepool TS24 – allowed her dog to suffer with a broken leg for a month, eventually forcing vets to amputate it.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin
Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin pleaded guilty one count of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal between March and April 2019.

The mother-of-two lied to RSPCA inspectors claiming her whippet, Lola, had fallen down the stairs and injured her right hind leg, but appeared to “brighten up” after a couple of days.

A member of the public contacted the animal welfare charity after noticing the family pet had an “obvious and noticeable injury”. Lola was unable to put any weight on the leg and it appeared visibly swollen.

The court heardhow Durkin denied witnessing Lola falling down the stairs, but had heard a yelp. However, she claimed she could not remember the date that the dog first began holding up one leg.

Dave Dedman, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “Lola was taken to see a vet who stated she was incapable of putting any weight on the leg and it was clear there was a fracture to the femur, muscle contractures and shortening of the limb.

“She said that had occurred over a prolonged period of time. She was hospitalised on April 5, 2019, but very sadly, because of the break and because the muscle had contracted, Lola had her right hind leg amputated on April 8.”

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

Durkin, was interviewed four days later and said she thought Lola had not been herself for a couple of days, but had perked back up and she had no reason to think Lola’s leg was broken.

Vets caring for the whippet confirmed it was impossible for the dog to have sustained the injury by falling down the stairs and said the fracture had happened at least four weeks prior to the RSPCA investigation.

Whippet Lola was left to suffer with a broken leg for four weeks by her callous owner Michaela Durkin

They instead suggested Lola’s leg had been subjected to “substantial lateral force”. The court heard allegations that the father of Durkin’s children had kicked the dog, however no charges were brought against him.

Mr Dedman concluded there had been “prolonged neglect”, adding: “It’s a very sad and there’s a high level of suffering caused to the dog, to the point where her leg had to be amputated.”

A probation report stated Durkin had significant personal and financial problems and could not afford veterinary bills.

Durkin’s solicitor, Gavin Musgrave, conceded the family pet had sustained a “horrific injury” and told the court that Lola had been signed over into the care of the RSPCA.

Mr Musgrave said: “She was a responsible dog owner and she’s had animals in the past. She’s very remorseful for the incident and she’s fearful of the consequences.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order; total of £485 fine and charges. Disqualified from owning or being in control of any animal for ten years.

Northern Echo
Teesside Live

Bedworth, Warwickshire: Katy Liggins and James Johnson

#TheList Katy Liggins and James Johnson, ages unknown, both of Smercote Close, Bedworth CV12 0EB – left their dogs suffering from chronic skin conditions for months.

Convicted dog abusers Katy Liggins and James Johnson
Katy Liggins and James Johnson

Katy Liggins and partner James Johnson pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Staffies Diesel and Roxy by failing to explore and address their chronic skin condition.

RSPCA inspectors were called to the couple’s home having been tipped off by a member of the public.

Before and after pictures of neglected dogs Diesel and Roxy
Before and after pictures of neglected dogs Diesel and Roxy

Investigating Inspector Helen Smith said: “When I first saw Diesel it was obvious he was in dire need of veterinary attention. He was constantly trying to scratch himself and his skin was so thick it was like that of an elephant.

“He has red sores which were weeping and it was clear he was suffering. Roxy was displaying similar symptoms.

“In my 20 years as an RSPCA inspector Diesel had one of the worst skin conditions caused by a flea infestation I have seen.

“Both pets must have been endlessly suffering trying to relieve their itchy skin. “

The RSPCA inspector went on: “The vet said they would have been suffering like this for months – which is so unnecessary as fleas are easily preventable with routine treatment.

“If pets do get fleas, veterinary treatment should be sought immediately so they don’t have to suffer needlessly for such a long period of time.”

In mitigation, the court heard the couple were suffering from financial difficulties.

The court ordered both Diesel and Roxy should be placed in the care of the RSPCA where they will be rehabilitated and re-homed.

Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months; 100 hours of unpaid work and 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement. Total of £250 costs and charges each. Five-year ban on keeping animals.

Coventry Telegraph
ITV News