#TheList John Benjamin Cook, born 13/11/1993, and his brother William Cook, born 11/07/1989, both of Little Acres, Longfield Avenue, New Barn, Longfield, Dartford DA3 7LA – ran a puppy farm and a cock-fighting ring
Gypsy travellers John and William Cook were convicted of a number of animal welfare offences.
In July 2018 RSPCA officers executed a warrant at the sprawling property in New Barn the brothers share with their extended family, including wives, children and parents, after a member of the public who had bought puppies from them raised concerns.
In total, 18 dogs, including spaniels and beagles were removed along with two cockerels.
Officers also seized a number of mobile phones from the site and a suspecting cock-fighting pit was uncovered. Analysis of the mobiles showed the brothers were involved with fighting and later forensics tests found the blood of at least four cockerels on the pit.
During the four-day trial the court heard how John Cook was accused of causing suffering to a number of dogs, failing to provide them with vet care for stomach and teeth problems and keeping them in unsuitable conditions.
William Cook was accused of a number of offences relating to cockerel fighting.
John Cook pleaded guilty to the offences, while William Cook was convicted of the offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport, from the charity’s special operations unit, said: “Many of the dogs being kept at the site had health and welfare problems, including untreated gastrointestinal and dental issues.
“We also had serious concerns over the conditions they were being kept in. The dogs and puppies were being kept in dirty, wet conditions with no bedding.”
Sentencing: William Cook – 120-day prison term – suspended for two years. Ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. Disqualified from keeping any animals for three years.
John Cook – 90 days in prison – also suspended for two years; 160 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.
Both men were ordered to pay £1,000 in costs plus a £115 victim surcharge.
#TheList Tracy Jane Middleton, born November 1968, of Little Oakhurst Brissenden Farm, Ashford Road, Bethersden, Ashford, Kent TN26 3BQ – jailed and banned from owning animals for 10 years after carcasses of sheep, lambs and cattle were found on her land.
Tracy Middleton admitted 41 charges relating to animals on her farm, which covers 340 acres with 135 cows and 150 sheep. These included causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and failing to provide adequate food and water.
She also admitted to breaches concerning ear tags, and for not sufficiently dealing with the carcasses of nine dead ewes and 15 dead lambs.
In February 2019, Kent Animal Defenders complained to the RSPCA after finding a dismal scene at the farm, despite the RSPCA raising concerns in 2018.
Andrew Price, prosecuting for Kent Trading Standards, said officials carried out a series of visits from 2018 to 2019 after being contacted by animal welfare activists.
The cattle sheds had no dry area for the cows to lie down, the water troughs were almost empty and the mud was so deep that cows found it hard to move around.
Animals had bald patches of skin. There was a dead calf in the mud and one calf was seen in the yard with bailing twine in its mouth.
Middleton’s lawyer, Gordon Crow, said his client accepted the farm was chaotic and badly-managed but that she had been overwhelmed at the time and going through a traumatic time in her life. He urged District Judge Justin Barron not to jail Middleton because of the “untold damage” this would cause her family.
However, Judge Barron said the level of suffering was so serious that the only appropriate punishment was a custodial sentence.
Addressing Middleton he said: “No one could look at those pictures and say your animals didn’t experience a high level of suffering.”
Many of the remaining animals have now been moved or sold, and a local farmer has now leased the farm.
Sentencing: 120 days in jail. Ordered to pay £8,500 costs. Banned from owning or keeping any animals for 10 years with the exception of a cat and two dogs she owns.
#TheList Maidstone gypsies and serial animal abusers Jimmy Price, born c. 1994, of Forstal Farm, Well Street, Loose ME15 0QE, Samuel ‘Johnny’ Powell, born c. 1985, of Wheat Gratten Stableyards, Forstal Road, Lenham ME17 2BF, Danny Price, born c. 1990, of Victoria Stables, Victoria Court, East Farleigh ME15 0BW
Jimmy Price and Samuel Powell were sent to prison after the former was filmed repeatedly stabbing a deer and the latter had put an eight-month-old foal to work. Price was also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse and two dogs.
Jimmy Price’s brother, Danny Price – a qualified jockey – admitted letting a horse starve to death and received a community order.
A video played to the court showed Jimmy Price’s dogs, Scout and Tramp, untethered and unfed at the father-of-two’s home address in Forstal Farm, Loose.
A voice in the video was heard to say: “If they run away good luck to them, I tell you what you’re the wickedest fella I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Jimmy Price, who has a history of violence, was previously convicted in December 2019 after repeatedly stabbing a deer. He was also caught hare coursing.
Rowan Morton, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said today: “It’s very difficult to even explain the gravity of what the video shows.
“There are a group of four males that can be seen with a deer. Jimmy Price is seen stabbing the deer multiple times in the throat while others shout at him to stab it.
“It’s very graphic and upsetting, there was no doubt that animal was caused significant pain and suffering.”
Price, who was already serving a suspended sentence for theft offences, has previously been convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs.
When Tramp and Scout were taken into the RSPCA’s care and fed properly, they gained 25% bodyweight and 45% bodyweight respectively within seven weeks.
Price’s dogs and the horse, which belonged to his late father, were seized during an RSPCA raid on Forstal Farm in March 2019.
Horse trader Samuel Powell had three horses seized during the same raid, having had a mare and her foal seized two months prior.
Four of the horses were found to be emaciated. One was suffering with diarrhoea and the foal had breathing problems, fleas and was described as “very thin”.
A Shetland Pony was found with a cut across the nose.
Powell accepted each of the horses was his own, but said they were in that condition as he was rehabilitating them.
He told the court: “I will buy horses that have not been treated properly. When I get them I feed them, look after them and rehabilitate them. Then I sell them for profit.
“I like to think I sometimes save lives when I buy horses.”
When asked where he buys his horses, Powell said: “I don’t want to go into too much detail as I’m from the gypsy community.”
In 2019 Powell was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to a foal which was seen walking up and down at Appleby Horse Fair pulling a cart with people in.
On Friday 10/01/2020 Powell was found guilty of four counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and a fifth charge of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal. The five charges relate to the five horses seized from Forstal Farm.
Danny Price admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a bay horse. In return charges of causing suffering to a bay mare, a black mare and a piebald mare, were dropped.
The bay horse was found dead next to a hay bale during the RSPCA raid in March 2019. He had starved to death.
Magistrates heard the 29-year-old had stopped looking after the horse as he was in the process of selling it, and thought it was the new owner’s responsibility.
Sentencing: Jimmy Price – jailed for seven and a half months of which half will be spent in custody. Ordered to pay £5,115 in costs and charges. Five-year order banning him from keeping dogs.
Samuel Powell – jailed for 26 weeks and will serve half of that sentence. Ordered to pay total of £5,115. Banned from owning horses for five years but can appeal after just one year.
Danny Price – 12-month community order; 150 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £1,585.
#TheList Margaret Redman, born 1961, and husband Philip Redman, age unknown, both of Borstal Street, Rochester ME1 3HL – left their cat to suffer with a painful mouth tumour
RSPCA officers visited the Redmans’ home on Saturday, March 9, 2019, and found that their cat Misty had a tumour on her mouth which had teeth embedded into it. This was making it difficult for her to eat. She also had matted fur caked with faeces and discharge from the tumour.
Mrs Redman told the officers that they had delayed taking the cat to the vets because she feared she would be put to sleep.
The couple pleaded guilty to failing in their duty to ensure welfare, and two counts each of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Their solicitor successfully argued that the couple were unsuitable for community sentences where there would be a possibility of carrying out unpaid work.
Sentencing: community order involving attendance at a rehabilitation course; £300 costs.
#TheList serial animal abuser Keeley M Boswell, born 18/09/1986, and partner Paul M Flemming, born c. 1991, both of Gerald Avenue, Chatham ME4 5TF – banned from keeping animals for 10 years after their dog’s broken leg had to be amputated
Keeley Boswell was already disqualified from keeping animals alongside previous partner James ‘Jimmy’ Moore for the severe neglect of an emaciated and flea-riddled Rottweiler named Bella and a Staffy, Rizla, with the latter having to be put to sleep.
In June 2018 RSPCA inspectors visited the home Boswell shares with latest partner Paul Flemming and discovered two flea-infested pets: 10-month-old Chihuahua Sandie and a cat called Princess Sandie also showed signs of a deformed forelimb.
Both animals were taken to a veterinary surgery, where Sandie was found to have suffered a painful leg fracture, which would have occurred at least three weeks earlier and been caused by “great force”.
The couple’s solicitor told the court that Boswell was aware she had been banned from keeping animals but she wasn’t sure if the ban was still in force.
She also admitted when asked by inspectors that Sandie’s leg did not look straight.
Flemming said he hadn’t noticed any issue with the dog’s leg but admitted that he ought to have taken her to the vets.
Their solicitor asked magistrates to give the couple community orders rather than a custodial sentence, as they had multiple children in their care and Flemming was named as the household’s only breadwinner.
In addition to the animal cruelty charges, Boswell was convicted of breaching a disqualification order, whilst Flemming was convicted of aiding and abetting this.
Sentencing: 18-week suspended sentence; ordered to take part in a total of 400 hours of unpaid work and supplementary rehabilitation sessions; £450 in costs. Banned from keeping animals for ten years.
#TheList Langley Beck, born c. 1963, or Bell Lane, Boxley, Maidstone, Kent ME14 39G – kept seven dogs and three ducks without water inside his home
Reclusive Langley Beck is said to own 80 acres of property but kept dogs in rooms with surfaces and furniture covered in excrement. Three ducks were found in a ‘hot’ caravan where all the doors and windows were closed. It is believed they had been left without water for 12 hours and had to be euthanised.
Beck, who is believed to live alone at the bleak property in Boxley, is the last member of the area’s oldest farming family.
Medway Magistrates Court heard police and an RSPCA investigator visited his home in July 2017.
RSPCA head investigator Ellie Burtcor entered one portacabin containing four dogs and said her eyes began to water from the stench.
She said: ‘It was absolutely disgusting, my eyes were watering with the urine smell that was coming from there.
‘There was an overwhelming smell of faeces and it was very damp and stagnant.
‘There were piles of faeces everywhere, faeces scraped along the floor, rubbish boxes, there were broken china ornaments.
‘Just everything that was completely unsuitable for a dog to be running around in.’
Giving evidence, Beck said the dogs had all been fed and given water that day and he would have been able to tend to the ducks if he hadn’t been occupied with the police arriving.
When asked about his routine of cleaning the areas the dogs lived in, he remained silent.
Despite the conditions, a vet who inspected the dogs said they were healthy.
A post mortem examination of the ducks concluded that they had gone at least 12 hours without water.
One was in such a bad state it was immediately put down while the other two were euthanised later.
Beck says his family have lived in Boxley for more than 100 years, making them the longest running residents of the village.
Sentencing: 20 days of rehabilitation activities, 100 hours of unpaid work; £1,800 in costs plus an £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for life.
#TheList for illegally docking the tail of a 15wo spaniel puppy Liam Jones, born c 1993, of Shrubcote, Tenterden, Ashford TN30
Cocker spaniel Max was discovered in High Halden with an elastic band wrapped at the top of his tail that had been tightened with the aid of crimping pliers, leaving the end to become “withered”.
His owner Liam Jones pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a puppy by attempting to dock his tail, when he appeared before Maidstone Magistrates.
RSPCA Inspector Dave Grant said that Max had been rescued in July 2018: “When we removed Max from the home he had an orange elastic band wrapped tightly around his tail.
“It was 1.5ins from the base of his tail and the remainder of the tail was withered almost to the point of falling off. I touched his tail and he yelped; he was obviously in pain.”
He added: “Mr Jones was used to docking lambs’ tails and didn’t see any different in applying the same method to his 15-week-old cocker spaniel puppy, Max.
“He claimed his previous dog had suffered a de-gloving tail injury, which is when the skin is torn away, and he wanted to prevent Max going through the same.
Tail docking is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, except for medical purposes or for certain types of certified working dogs, when the procedure must be carried out by a vet before the puppy is five days old.
“While Mr Jones told us that Max was intended to be a working dog, he was not registered with any groups.”
Insp Grant said. “He also admitted that he was unaware of the laws around tail docking and had used crimping pliers to apply the rubber band to Max’s tail.
“Tail docking is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act. It is a painful process, can impact on how dogs communicate and is often wholly unnecessary.
“We do not believe any animals should be mutilated for cosmetic purposes and that removing part or all of the tail should only be done for medical reasons.”
Max has been rehomed by the RSPCA.
Sentencing: community order of 200 hours of unpaid work and 20-days of rehabilitation activity, to include attending the RSPCA’s pilot intervention programme aimed at stopping re-offending. Total of £385 costs and charges. Disqualified from keeping dogs for two years.
The RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) joined Metropolitan Police to execute a warrant at the property in January 2018 after calls from concerned members of the public who had bought puppies from the address in the run-up to Christmas.
To their shock, a total of 38 dogs and 18 cats were found in makeshift pens, in the garden and in cages.
RSPCA Inspector Carroll Lamport said: “We’d been contacted by numerous people buying puppies who had grown suspicious of the operation that was being run from the house in Bexleyheath.
“People were concerned that they were never allowed beyond the living room when they visited the house to see the puppies and many who had purchased dogs reported that their pets had quickly fallen ill.
“Sadly, in some cases, people’s beloved new pet puppies had been so poorly that they’d died.”
In the run-up to Christmas 2017 the RSPCA received six complaints relating to Basset hounds, dachshunds and a boxer. One of the pups – a dachshund – died on Christmas Day having contracted parvovirus.
When officers raided the property they discovered pedigree cats and fashionable dog breeds – such as Newfoundlands, dachshunds, French bulldogs and Shihtzus – being kept in completely unacceptable conditions.
One Newfoundland was found with seriously deformed legs and couldn’t walk while many of the dogs were covered in mud, faeces and their coats were matted with dirt. Some of the dogs had severe dental disease, some with docked tails and many had nasty eye infections or ears clogged with built-up hair and wax.
An independent vet who joined officers on the raid to check all of the animals said it was some of the worst conditions he’d ever seen.
Inspector Lamport added: “The house and garden were total mayhem but the living room – the only space prospective buyers were allowed access to – couldn’t have been more different. A pristine and impeccably clean space.
“Mr Hayes was involved in the day-to-day care of these animals and should have known better than to keep them in such horrendous conditions.
“Thankfully, we were able to save these lovely dogs and cats and they will all go on to lead much happier and healthier lives.”
All of the animals have since been re-homed or are in foster care awaiting new homes.
Sentencing: 20 weeks in jail suspended for 18 months; 250 hours of unpaid work; fined £3,500 plus £115 victim surcharge. Disqualified from keeping animals indefinitely
#TheList Julius Gadzor, born c. 1979, of Wellington Street, Gravesend, Kent DA12 – trapped and kept wild birds by putting rat glue on feeders in his garden
Slovakian Gadzor admitted possessing wild birds and trapping them.
Officers from the Rural Task Force for Kent joined forced with the RSPCA on Thursday, June 14, 2018, to conduct a search of Gadzor’s home following a tip off they received from the RSPB.
A number of caged wild birds were seized as well as rat glue and other bird trapping equipment.
Gadzor was interviewed four days later where he admitted that he was trying to catch them illegally in his garden.
Sergeant Darren Walshaw, who co-ordinated the search, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working. The intelligence received from the RSPB allowed us to gain enough information to request a search warrant and the case built by the RSPCA resulted in the man having to admit his guilt.
“Bird trapping is not only illegal, it is incredibly cruel. We are committed to working with our partner agencies to put these criminals, who illegally trap birds for their own financial gain, before the court.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “To take a wild bird from its natural habitat and shut it inside a tiny cage is so cruel. They suffer greatly in captivity, are not used to being in cages and, sadly, often die.
“All wild birds in England and Wales, their nests and their eggs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and actions may only be taken under specific licences.’
“It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to trap wild birds.”
Sentencing: 28-day curfew; total of £385 costs and charges.
#TheList for horrific horse neglect – career criminal Jonathan Levi Dunn (DoB 20/12/1983) and partner Bridget Linda Saunders (DoB 25/11/1986) both of the Denton gypsy traveller site at Dering Way, Gravesend DA12 and Ronnie Vine, aged 46, of Havengore Avenue, Gravesend DA12
The offences related to 13 horses which were part of a large group kept in appalling conditions in a field near Denton Caravan Site, Dering Way, Gravesend.
The horses were kept in a field which did not have enough grazing to sustain the numbers, and it was riddled with litter and hazards such as barbed wire, plastic bags and plastic netting.
The main water source was a dyke contaminated due to decaying horses’ remains and was green and full of rubbish.
The RSPCA had also discovered a large number of dead and rotting horse bodies littering the field.
There was a drain with the manhole cover removed, which led to a 6ft drop which the horses could have fallen into.
Speaking about the case RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon said: “Many of the horses taken were just youngsters and had probably only known a life of misery, sickness and riddled with worms, in a field far too small for them, with no grazing, and a lack of supplementary feed.
“It is such an awful shame that in this day and age, we are still seeing cases of animal cruelty of this scale.
“I was truly horrified at the sheer number of horses being kept in such terrible conditions in one small location, the horrors were clear for all to see – yet despite this the owners failed to make improvements for them.
“This is one of the largest number of horses that the RSPCA has taken into its care in the Kent area in recent years, and I am pleased to say that almost all of the horses are now doing exceptionally well.”
Dunn – 26 weeks in prison; disqualified from keeping any equines for 10 years (expires July 2028).
Saunders – two-year conditional discharge; total costs and charges of £130; a mere three-year ban on keeping all horses (expires July 2021) .
Vine – total costs and charges of £1,430; banned from keeping any equines for just one year (expires July 2019).
Our image shows Jonathan Levi Dunn and partner Bridget Linda Saunders. Dunn is from a notorious family of travellers based at Barnfield Park Caravan Site, Ash, Sevenoaks, Kent, who between them have multiple convictions for theft and driving offences, not to mention horse cruelty. In February 2017 three members of Jon Dunn’s family – brothers Harry and Matthew and cousin Tommy Tucker Dunn – were also banned from keeping horses after they left sick animals in the same field as a rotting carcass and poisonous ragwort. See also here.
This conviction was preceded by a similar one in August 2012 when Tommy Dunn Senior and Tommy Dunn Junior were sentenced to pay £5000 in costs each and Shirley Dunn was ordered to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to horses and failing in their duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act.