#TheList Robert Iordan, born 28/05/1996, Florin Nutu, born 11/01/1984, and Viorel Manu, born c. 1980, all of 41 Dunsink Road, Birmingham B6 6PL – killed and butchered around 350 sheep in Northamptonshire over four months.
Between June 22 and October 7, 2019, the three Romanian nationals travelled across rural areas in the county, killing and butchering sheep in order to steal the meat and profit from it.
The trio’s attacks on sheep and lambs, which all took place in the dead of night, had the county’s livestock farming community gripped in fear.
But they were hunted down by Northamptonshire Police’s rural crime team, acting on key information from NFU members and farmers, and arrested.
All three eventually pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Northampton crown court.
In a hearing in October 2019, the court heard the gruesome details of how the alleged operation was carried out.
The prosecution lawyer said: “The conspiracy involved the slaughter of about 350 sheep, all that have been slaughtered inhumanely.
“Vehicles and weapons have been taken to the location on local farmers’ fields, the sheep are captured and a knife is taken to their throats and they suffer a slow and painful death.
“A pipe is then inserted into the throat of the sheep which are blown up, they are skinned and their remains are left at the scene.”
NFU county adviser for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, Harriet Ranson, who was involved in the case from the beginning and liaised with police throughout, said she was delighted with the outcome.
“These crimes were horrific, barbaric and unprecedented and had the whole livestock farming community in Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties living in fear that they would be next for months,” she said.
“It is fantastic to see the courts treating these appalling crimes with the seriousness they deserve and handing down suitably lengthy prison terms to these dangerous men.
“This case really highlights how important local information from farmers, the NFU and the public is in helping to bring offenders before the courts.
“We’d like to thank Northamptonshire Police, their rural crime team and the police and crime commissioner for their relentless pursuit of these criminals and we hope this case sends out a clear message to anyone planning to do something similar – you will get caught and you will get punished.”
Sentencing: Iordan and Nutu were both handed jail terms of four years and four months and Manu was ordered to serve two years and 11 months inside.
#TheList Perparim Tahiraj, born 21/09/1970, of 36 Williamson Drive, Helensburgh G84 87LH – failed to get veterinary treatment for his five horses and left them to fly-graze
Perparim Tahiraj, who is originally from Kosovo, told Scottish SPCA inspectors he would not feed or care for horses Al, Africa, Cinderella, Song, and Tia, but refused to sign them over
Tahiraj, who has previously been convicted of domestic violence let the horses roam on land he did not have permission to use. The muddy ground in Helensburgh was unsuitable for grazing, with no shelter from the elements, and the horses became emaciated.
For a year the horses were left to try to fend for themselves on land which was littered with broken fencing and poisonous rhododendron bushes.
Shockingly, on Christmas Eve 2018, Tahiraj announced to inspectors from the Scottish SPCA that he would not feed or care for his horses. But he also refused to hand them over into their care.
Tahiraj was found guilty under Section 24 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 for failing to provide a suitable environment, adequate diet and protection from suffering, injury and disease.
He was banned from keeping horses for five years.
Further sentencing was deferred for six months, meaning if he stays out of trouble for that period of time, he will likely face no further punishment.
Following the sheriff’s verdict, it was disclosed that Tahiraj, who is unemployed, is already using some of his benefits to pay back outstanding fines.
He also claimed he was unable to work due to various alleged health complications, including depression, anxiety, and arthritis, which meant he would be unable to complete a community payback order of unpaid work.
Scottish SPCA inspector Gillian Dick said: “We are pleased Tahiraj has been handed a ban for this level of neglect.
“Tahiraj is well known to the Scottish SPCA, we have had countless dealings with him and removed animals from his care a number of times.
“We tried on several occasions to provide him with guidance and advice on how to care for his animals.
“Tahiraj did not have permission to graze his horses on the land and had effectively been fly grazing within the field and surrounding grass area since January 2018.
“On 24 December 2018 he stated he would no longer attend to his horses or provide feed for them.
“We then asked him to sign the horses over in to our care, which he refused to do. “When we attended horses we discovered them all to be underweight and in poor body condition.
“Four of the five horses were suffering from skin infections, which needed veterinary treatment.
“The field offered inadequate grazing for equine animals and conditions were muddy, with little appropriate shelter from adverse weather conditions.
“The horses were exposed to poisonous rhododendron bushes and discarded fencing material.
“In one corner of the field the fence was broken and taped up, which was not suitable to contain the horses from the nearby busy road. We welcome this sentence. Tahiraj was not capable of meeting the most basic of needs for the horses in his care.
“We hope this sentence makes Tahiraj consider his ability to look after any animal in the future.”
Sentencing: banned from keeping any equine animals for a period of five years.
#TheList alleged dog killer Klaudiusz Maria Grzesiak, born c. 1973, of Ballacannell Estate, Laxey, Isle of Man IM4 – walked free from court after the sole witness, his wife, refused to testify against him
The case against Polish national Klaudiusz Maria Grzesiak, who was accused of stranging a cocker spaniel named Milka to death, collapsed after his wife, Marta Adamczewska-Grzesiak, withdrew her evidence.
A post mortem examination carried out on Milka confirmed the cause of death was strangulation to the front of the neck.
They were also injuries consistent with trauma to the dog’s back.
Mrs Grzesiak had advertised the dog as missing on Facebook before her body was discovered.
Prosecutor Roger Kane told the court during an initial hearing that Mrs Grzesiak had received text messages about the dog following a verbal altercation with her husband the previous day.
Grzesiak had denied causing unnecessary suffering to the dog and damaging property. But just days before a pre-trial review hearing on Christmas Eve 2019, his wife retracted a statement she’d made to police.
Prosecution advocate Rebecca Cubbon said by law she was prevented from compelling Mrs Grzesiak to give evidence against her husband.
She said under the circumstances, all the prosecution could do was offer no evidence on both counts.
Mrs Hughes told Grzesiak no further action would be taken against him, and formally dismissed the charges.
She also said the prosecution wasn’t to blame for the trial’s collapse, and didn’t order defence costs to be paid.
#TheList Roma gypsy Gusztav ‘Guszti’ Petrovics, born 04/08/1988, originally from Pécs in Hungary and currently of 20 Abingdon Close, Rochdale OL11 – kept 27 dogs stacked up in their own faeces and urine with no food or water.
Petrovics was found guilty in his absence of two animal welfare offences at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on November 18, 2019.
The court heard the RSPCA were called to Petrovics’ home on January 24, 2019, following concerned calls from members of the public.
When they visited the home, Petrovics confirmed he owned a large number of dogs, and allowed RSPCA inspector Danni Jennings to see them.
She was shown inside a closed metal shed in the back garden, where there were seven dog crates full of dogs and puppies piled on top of each other.
In total there were 10 female adult dogs, one male and 15 puppies – all Dachshunds – with one female terrier-cross.
An expert vet who joined police and the RSPCA on the raid confirmed that the dogs were not being looked after properly. They were seized by police, the court heard.
Petrovics said during his interview that he had imported the dogs from Hungary, where he grew up, and planned to give the puppies to friends.
Inspector Jennings said: “The smell from the shed was apparent as soon as we were in the back garden. These dogs were kept in cramped conditions in cages which were stacked on top of each other.
“They were lying in their own faeces and urine – and the smell from the shed was evident as soon as we went onto the back garden. There was also no water or food in the cages for the dogs. The conditions were absolutely appalling.
“The puppies were immediately signed over into RSPCA care and have been rehomed. Following the conclusion of the case the RSPCA has taken the adult dogs into our care and they too will be rehomed.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order. Ordered to pay £1,000 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. Five-year ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Krisztina Kubovics, born 07/11/1985, of 11 Finching Grove, Mirfield WF14 0LH – for the extensive and prolonged neglect of her elderly Shih Tzu dog
Hungarian national Kubovics pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to take steps to ensure its needs were met.
The neglect was uncovered when a neighbour of Kubovics took the 16-year-old dog, known as Malua, to a qualified dog groomer.
The professional was so concerned she refused to groom her and contacted the RSPCA.
Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said following her contact with the charity an inspector visited Kubovics’s home and took the dog away to be examined by a vet.
Mr Davidson added: “She talked about Malua’s coat being in an extremely poor condition with heavy matting.
“There was a problem with the left eye, overgrown claws and significant dental disease.
“The claws were extremely long with one puncturing the skin.
“Ultimately the eye had to be removed (and) the teeth were so long that a number had to be taken out.
“She said that Malua would have suffered as a result of the chronic eye disease and overgrown claws.
“It would have caused extreme discomfort and (she) would have expected the owner to notice and seek advice.
“The claws, particularly the one going into the skin, would have caused chronic and persistent pain and difficulty walking. The dental disease would have taken years to develop.”
When interviewed Kubovics admitted she hadn’t taken her dog to the groomers because she didn’t want her hair too short and, in any event, it would be difficult for anyone to touch her because she might bite.
She admitted that Malua’s nails were curling and that she tried to cut them herself with scissors because she couldn’t afford to have them done due to financial difficulties.
Sajid Majeed, mitigating, said that his client had experienced lots of difficulties in her life.
Mr Majeed said: “Ms Kubovics has dealt with things in her life not so well and this is one of them. The dog clearly hasn’t been cared for properly.”
Sentencing: community order with 10-day Rehabilitation Activity Order and 120 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £332 cost and charges. Banned from keeping dogs for five years. Deprivation order on Malua.
#TheList Adrianne Susan Peltz (now Thompson), born 22/10/1984, of 3 Beatrice Road, Bangor, County Down BT20 5DG – defrauded the Dogs Trust of nearly £5,500
Peltz pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of her position involving £5,393.22 at the Dogs Trust in a “breach of trust”.
The 35-year-old, who is originally from South Africa, admitted using a Dogs Trust credit card for personal expenditures.
Peltz had been employed as the Dogs Trust’s campaigns manager for Northern Ireland and had a charity credit card for use in the day to day running of her office.
However, upon the termination of her contract, “numerous requests for receipts” to be produced by Peltz were not forthcoming.
It emerged that on dates between April and October 2017 a number of items totalling £5,392.22 could not be explained as “legitimate company business”.
Defence barrister Stephen Law said it was accepted that all money given to a charity is important and for anyone to misuse it would be “particularly mean-spirited”. He said Peltz had been going through a “particularly difficult time” when the offending happened.
Mr Law said she was “under considerable pressure at work” and was also “trying to juggle her caring and loving role as a mother” and was also a carer for her own mum.
In the evenings when “under stress” Peltz had “strayed beyond” what the credit card was intended for and made a number of “online” purchases.
Mr Law said it “really has been a classic fall from grace” for Peltz, who had been industrious and occupied a number of important public roles which had now “all come crashing down”, and with it she had lost her reputation.
Following the guilty plea he said the defendant resigned from a number of groups but he said a “glimmer of hope” was that she recently married and her husband was with her in court.
Mr Law said the defendant was unemployed and was not claiming any benefits but “living on the goodwill” of her husband.
The defence barrister said there was no question that Peltz felt ashamed for her “inexcusable” actions and she may have to move from her current address because she has been “shunned” by the community.
He said although every pound given to a charity is important, the Dogs Trust was a UK-wide organisation and the loss of £5,000 may not have a “significant impact” on them.
Mr Law said it had been a “life-changing experience” for Peltz who is going to “pick herself up, get a job and pay this money back”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the offending was “mean-spirited” which involved a “breach of trust” with a charity to which the public had given money in good faith.
He said he read a Victim Impact Statement from the Dogs Trust and the incident had a “traumatic effect” on staff.
The judge said he took into account a guilty plea and said it was not without significance that Peltz lost her job and other employment and there had been an “element of public shame which is attached to such a high profile loss of face”.
He handed down a six-month jail term, suspended for two years, and ordered the defendant to pay back the amount of money involved.
Outside the court the defendant replied “no comment, thank you” as she passed reporters.
Following the sentencing hearing, a Dogs Trust spokesperson said: “We rely on the enormous generosity of the public to help us care for over 15,000 dogs every year and we do all we can to ensure funds are used wisely.
“This was a rare situation for us and we took appropriate steps at the time to recover the funds where we could, but what’s important is that following today’s hearing more of the money will be returned to us and put back into the vital work that we do.
“We would like to thank the police for their prompt assistance in this matter. We respect the decision of the court and are pleased to draw this issue to a close.”
Sentencing: six months in jail suspended for two years. Ordered to repay the money she stole from the animal charity.
#TheList Celestino Jorge Tavares Furtado, born December 1986, of 165 Hemswell Avenue, Hull HU9 5LD – kept an American bulldog left locked up in an empty office without food or water
Former restaurateur Celestino Furtado, owner of Galitos LX Charcoal Grill Bar until it was shut down in 2018 for food hygiene breaches, said he didn’t have anyone to look after the dog when he went away, so he locked him up in an office and abandoned him.
The dog, now called Teddy, was so desperate for water and food he tried to chew through the door and was found walking in his own urine and faeces.
Portuguese national Furtado was found guilty in his absence of three offences contrary to section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, including failing to meet the dog’s need for a suitable environment, adequate care and supervision and an adequate supply of fresh drinking water.
A warrant was issued for his arrest and he appeared before the same court on October 1, 2019, to be sentenced.
RSPCA Inspector Jilly Dickinson said: “The smell coming out of the unit was unbearable. There was a wooden door inside which Teddy had scratched and chewed along with exposed electrical wires.
“It was a warm day and he appeared desperate for water – drinking every bowl we put in front of him. The environment was completely unhygienic and the large build-up of faeces suggested it had not been cleaned in some time.”
Previous advice had been given to Furtado by the RSPCA relating to keeping his dog’s environment clean, however, conditions had deteriorated to an unacceptable level.
Inspector Dickinson attended Furtado’s business address in Oxford Street, Wincolmlee, in May 2019, along with a Welfare Officer from Hull City Council.
They found the dog walking in his own urine and faeces, which led to some sores developing on his paws, although they were not infected. He had skin irritation, particularly under his chin, most likely caused as a result of the unhygienic environment. The smell emanating from the unit was overpowering and could be smelt from outside.
Sentencing: 12-month community order to include 180 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £700 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping dogs for five years. Deprivation order on Teddy who will be rehomed.
#TheList breeder and kennel owner Wilfried Frederik Anna Vangenechten, born September 1959, of Avon Bridge Lodge, Old Avon Road, Ferniegair, Hamilton ML3 7UH – neglected dogs so badly they had to be put down
Wilfried Vangenechten’s kennels business was raided by the Scottish SPCA responding to a tip-off about distressed animals being kept there. Officers discovered a total of 17 dogs including Cairn terriers, West Highland terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers and Shih Tzus being kept in horrific conditions.
Some of the dogs were underweight with matted fur and suffering skin complaints. Sadly four of the dogs were so poorly they had to be put to sleep.
Belgian national Vangenechten admitted causing the dogs unnecessary suffering between February and March 2019.
It also emerged that he was operating the business without an appropriate licence.
The sheriff banned him for five years and acknowledged that her decision would shut his business down but allowed him to keep a pet dog and a flock of chickens.
She added: “As I had indicated previously, I have considered all of the matters and information before the court and I have no option but to impose a disqualification order for a period of five years.
“The order will prohibit you keeping any animals apart from your pet dog and the six poultry birds, but you cannot deal, work with or take possession of animals over that period.
“I have given careful consideration to whether any other disposal would be appropriate but after considering all before me I’m not going to impose anything further.
“I acknowledge that the sentence of the court today will shut down your business and livelihood”.
Sentencing: banned from keeping animals for five years.
#TheList Roma gypsies from Hungary Norbert Farkas, born 25/09/1989, and Leila Katalin Horvath, born 18/02/1991, previously of Parkside Road, Birkenhead CH42 – struck a mother dog with a metal bar, fed her sausages laced with anti-freeze, left her to suffer for three days in agony and finally stabbed her to death.
Wirral Magistrates’ Court heard how on April 5, 2019 RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes was contacted by environmental health officers to attend an alleyway off Parkside Road in Birkenhead.
Chris Murphy, prosecuting, told the court how Inspector Joynes found a dead American bulldog wrapped in bin bags and a paddling pool.
Mr Murphy said that the dog’s body was covered with live maggots.
The court heard how Inspector Joynes then went to question Norbert Farkas about the dead dog as his home overlooked the alleyway.
Farkas initially said that that the dog was not his, but then admitted ownership.
He said that the dog, an American bulldog named Luna, who had recently given birth to 12 puppies, had attacked him. He said he hit the dog with a metal bar in self-defence and to protect his partner Leila Horvath.
When Inspector Joynes later questioned Horvath, she admitted that she fed the dog anti-freeze and then stabbed her.
Farkas pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Horvath pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, one count of poisoning and failing to see that the dog received proper medical attention.
Mr Murphy later provided graphic details of the events that led up to the dog’s death.
He explained how Farkas struck the dog with a weights bar.
After going online to research how to kill a dog, Horvath fed the animal chicken land sausages aced with anti-freeze.
The court heard that Horvath thought the dog would die quickly but the animal lay in the alleyway lingering to life.
On the third day Horvath took a large knife and later stabbed the animal in the throat.
Mr Murphy made it clear that the couple would have been able to see the dog as it lay whimpering in the alleyway over a three day period.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders told the court that the case was one of “unimaginable cruelty”.
Horvath told probation officers that Luna’s behavior began to deteriorate after she gave birth to puppies.
She said that she bought anti-freeze from a nearby garage and laced it on sausages, which were fed to the dog.
Horvath said that she thought the dog would die quickly but she did not.
She said that the dog was making “strange noises” and she was concerned that neighbours might call the police. She then decided to grab a large kitchen knife and stab the dog to death.
She told probation officers that they had been reviled by the local community after the incident and had to move to a new address.
Farkas said he had been advised by health professionals to buy a large dog to help treat his mental health problems and stress.
Farkas also claimed that Luna became aggressive toward them after she gave birth to puppies. He claimed that this aggressive behaviour led up to the attack on him.
He claimed to have suffered a panic attack after the dog attacked him and said that was why his partner decided to kill her.
Thomas Hanlon, defending, said that Horvath took full responsibility for her actions.
He said that the couple arrived in the UK from Hungary in 2010 and had both worked full time since arriving, contributing to society.
Mr Hanlon said that the couple had been targeted after their animals were seized by the RSPCA, and that a petrol bomb was thrown at their home.
He said the couple were forced to leave their home in the night after the attack.
Mr Murphy said that a vets report found that if the dog had attacked Farkas in the way he claimed he would have suffered serious injuries which he did not have.
District Judge Sanders told the couple: “You struck the dog with a metal bar, and then you poisoned it with anti-freeze before stabbing it.
“It is hard to imagine a more cruel way of dealing with an animal.”
Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Joynes told the ECHO: “Farkas said that Luna had ‘gone for’ his foot and that although there was no injury, it hurt and he felt fear for his and his partner’s life. He described using a metal weightlifting bar to forcefully strike Luna two to three times on the head.
“Farkas stated that Luna had been alive in the garden for around an hour. Horvarth admitted that she had then gone outside and given Luna antifreeze in sausages.”
“Horvath said she had researched the cost of getting a dog euthanised and had also researched poisoning dogs and what chemical to use. Over the next few days, Luna was in the garden slowly dying from poisoning until she was stabbed to death three days later.
“It is absolutely horrific to think what Luna went through. Luna was caused suffering on multiple levels over several days, which was unnecessary and cruel.
“Horvath and Farkas knew Luna could have been put to sleep humanely by a vet but evidence shows that she was killed in her own way over a period of several days, leaving her to suffer greatly.”
A male American bulldog and 12 puppies were seized from Horvath’s and Farkas’ address by police while an investigation was carried out.
Vet examinations of the puppies showed that they were suffering from respiratory illnesses.
All 12 puppies have now been rehomed. The male dog is now in RSPCA care and will be re-homed.
Sentencing: jailed for 10 weeks. Banned from keeping animals for life with minimum of 10 years.