Evans and Roberts were found guilty of theft after a trial. The pair had denied stealing Bruce, a black French bulldog belonging to Catrin Tudor, at Pwllheli in August 2019. Both maintained their innocence and showed no remorse, said a probation officer.
Diane Williams, prosecuting, said Bruce was in the garden of his owner’s home in Pwllheli at about 2.30pm on August 25, 2019. She was in the house with the front door open and Bruce was running in and out. The court heard that she found the garden gate slightly open and said Bruce could not have opened it.
Realising the dog was missing, she began a search and later reported the matter to police.
Family members posted messages about the dog’s disappearance on social media and there were sightings of Bruce in the company of two men and a woman in the street and on a beach. The following morning, Roberts was seen waiting for a bus with the dog and was arrested in Porthmadog .
Evans was arrested at his brother’s home the same morning.
A police officer said the two-year-old dog, who was valued at £1,500, was in a distressed state and very thirsty.
When Ms Tudor arrived at the police station, Bruce’s demeanour changed completely and he greeted her excitedly, said Ms Williams.
During the trial, Evans said he had been for a walk in the Abersoch area with Roberts and his brother Ben.
Passing Ms Tudor’s house, they had seen a dog which began following them, he said.
Evans said he had ignored the dog at first but had asked an elderly couple if they knew who owned him.
He said they had also knocked on several doors in the area but got no reply. They had taken the dog with them to his brother’s flat and later went to the beach with the animal, he said.
Ben Evans told the court he had recognised the animal and told the others who owned it and to return it.
Both Evans and Roberts denied intending to sell the dog for £1,000
Sentencing Evans – 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months; 180 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay Bruce’s owner £50 compensation and £712 costs; 35-day probation service course. The court heard the offence took place just days after Evans was made the subject of a community order.
Roberts – 12-month community order; 150 hours of unpaid work; 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement. Ordered to pay £50 compensation and £680 costs.
#TheList Samantha McIntyre, born 11/04/1975, of Copse Wood, Foston Lane, Bradford BD2 3QU – abandoned a cat and three kittens to go on holiday for nine days; mother cat starved to death
McIntyre, who at the time was living in Coed Onn Road, Flint in North Wales, said she had left food out and the shower running for her pet named Lulu, and her three kittens while she went to visit her partner in Bradford.
The 44-year-old said she had only intended on being away for three days, but ended up staying longer to look after her boyfriend when he fell ill.
Meanwhile, concerned residents contacted the RSPCA reporting fears the animals had been abandoned.
Inspectors visited the property on several occasions to put food through the letterbox and sealed the front door with tape so they could see if anyone had been home.
But it was nine days before McIntyre returned, by which time Lulu had died.
A post-mortem examination revealed there was no food in her system and her death was due to malnutrition.
The three kittens were rescued by the RSPCA and are now said to be doing well.
McIntyre, who now lives permanently in Bradford, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to look after the welfare of the animals.
Glen Murphy, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said the charity had visited the address on June 28, 29 and 30, 2019, to check if the seal over the door had been broken, and to put food through the letterbox.
They had spotted an “immobile cat” and three kittens and contacted housing officers to get them to alert the tenant.
When they finally reached her, McIntyre told the RSPCA she’d given her ex-partner permission to enter the property and feed the cats but when he was traced, he said they had cut ties and he didn’t even know she was away.
When police eventually gained entry to the house, they found no food out for the cats and the shower running in the wet room.
The court heard McIntyre had been away from June 21 to 30, 2018.
Melissa Griffiths, defending said she was suffering with mental health problems at the time and with a 21-month-old baby and a vulnerable teenager to look after, as well as her sick partner, and was “stretched in too many directions.”
“She is extremely shaken up and ashamed to be before the court for the first time and understands this is an extremely serious matter…she was just stretched in too many directions.”
Magistrates said they considered the level of neglect to be “extreme” causing the cats “considerable suffering.”
Sentencing: 16-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months; 12-month community order of 180 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £622 costs. Banned from keeping animals for two years.
#TheList Wilfred Francis, born c. 1981, and his brother Ian Martin Francis, born c. 1983, both of Yr Ackery Farm, Dark Lane, Burton, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0AE – for the mistreatment of cattle on their farm
Wilfred and Ian Francis pleaded guilty to a number of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
On February 5, 2019, an unannounced visit by Wrexham Council was made to the farm after receiving a complaint of a dog eating a dead calf.
On arrival at the farm officers of the Food and Farming team accompanied by an Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) Vet found dead cattle and calves, animals with none or insufficient bedding. Some were without food and water and had access to hazardous object around the premises.
Ian Dillon, acting on behalf of the council, told the court: “Two dead cattle were being picked at by chickens. One had been unlawfully killed by Wilfred Francis by injecting it with anaesthetic.
“One cow had to be put to sleep after because it was left without medication after breaking its hip calfing two weeks previously.”
Mr Dillon said: “There were other cows with no access to water or food, some kept near to scrap metal which could have caused them harm and a general failure to clean and disinfect to keep away flies and disease.
“Waste food products had been left on the farm. Mince pies, cup cakes and ice cream was fed to the cattle. Some animals were left lying in slurry.”
Photographs taken by animal welfare officers showed animals living in squalid conditions. The officers made subsequent visits to the farm.
Mr Dillon said: “One calf was drowning in slurry. Another had been born the previous evening and had little bedding that was filled with slurry. The cow that had given birth was exhausted and had been given no food or water.
“Another newborn calf seen on March 5 was only just able to keep its nose above the slurry.”
Conditions did improve said Mr Dillon but eventually, the council applied to seize animals in May 2019 to stop unnecessary suffering. The herd reduced from 140 down to 40 head of cattle.
Sentencing: 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months. Ordered to pay £3,000 costs each to Wrexham County Council – at a minimum rate of £50 per month. There was no order against the brothers keeping animals in the future.
RSPCA Cymru had long been monitoring the welfare of a number of horses, located at fields off Tan-y-Fron Road in Abergele.
Despite repeated warnings and the provision of advice – the welfare of a number of the animals started to decline sharply over the autumn of 2018.
In October 2018 officers removed three mares and a filly from the site, all of whom were very underweight and had severe diarrhoea. Three foals belonging to the mares were also removed, because they were too young to come away from their mothers.
A further three mares, a filly and a stallion were removed in December 2018, many appearing thin, and living in muddy conditions. One was found to be suffering, while the remainder were not having their needs sufficiently met.
Two horses had to be euthanised after becoming seriously unwell. A post-mortem examination of them showed they had serious liver damage thought to be caused from ragwort as well as internal damage caused by parasites.
RSPCA inspector Jenny Anderton said: “This was a really difficult case to work on, given the repeated attempts and efforts we made to support this individual with caring for the horses.
“We worked closely with World Horse Welfare to help these horses, and we’re very grateful, as always, for their support, assistance and expertise.
“Sadly, the man’s failure to provide proper care was long-running, and some of the treatment these horses endured was appalling.
“Many were very thin, and living in wholly inappropriate muddy conditions. Others were struggling with severe diarrhoea and urgently needed help.
“Owning equines should be a privilege – but despite repeated warnings and attempts of help, this individual repeatedly failed to give the equines the care they so desperately needed.
“I hope this incident highlights to people how important it is to give equines appropriate treatment for parasites, be vigilant against the toxic plant ragwort as well as consulting your vet at the first sign of any illness.
“Horses have complex needs, are expensive to keep properly and time-consuming to look after.
“I would urge anyone considering taking on a horse to ensure they have the necessary financial means and specialist knowledge before they do so.”
Sentencing: curfew; ordered to pay £250 towards costs. Ten-year ban on keeping animals.
#TheList Paul E Patton, born c. 1975, of Morfa View, Rhyl LL18 5TT – kicked a pet cat to death after she scratched him
In what was described in court as “a deliberate and gratuitous use of unlawful force” Patton booted the cat, named Brody, three times. She ran off and when Patton found her she had already died of her injuries.
A full investigation was carried out by the RSPCA and a postmortem examination was held.
Patton initially pleaded not guilty but later admitted the cruelty charge against him.
Patton will now face a hearing by his professional body to establish whether he’s fit to continue working as a nurse.
Sentencing: 10-week custodial sentence suspended for two years; £3,500 costs to the RSPCA with a £115 surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for ten years.
==== Update February 2020: WalesOnline reported that Patton was given a three-month suspension by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) after they considered his fitness to practise. The NMC felt this would be an appropriate and proportionate sanction for Patton’s conviction and would “satisfy the public interest in this case”.
#TheList John Knibbs, born 04/02/64, most recently of Polyanthus Drive, Sleaford NG34 7HS, Stephen Gardner, born c. 1961, of Willows End, Bloxholm, Lincoln LN4 3QF, Adam Scott, born c. 1984 of Aber Eilian Bach, Llaneilian, Amlwch, Anglesey LL68 9LR and Kimberleigh Steele, also known as Kim Donaghy, born 24/02/88, of Downfield Walk, Plymouth PL7 2DT
The RSPCA prosecution case against a vicious dog-fighting gang who tried to breed the “ultimate dog” has been heard in court. Three members of the gang didn’t even bother to show up for their hearing and were convicted in their absence.
The court heard police and RSPCA investigators found eight dogs during a raid on a premises in Sleaford, including an American bulldog, a Bully Kutta cross Presa Canario and a pitbull terrier. Some of the dogs had horrific injuries, were scarred from fighting and in poor physical health.
The searches uncovered paraphernalia commonly used by people involved in dog fighting, including a ‘flirt pole’, a long pole with a rope attached and a ‘break stick’, a tool commonly used to break up a dog fight.
Serial dog fighter John Herbert Knibbs (who also uses the surname Donaghy), who was already banned for life from keeping animals, was the ringleader of the gang. His latest cruelty relates to when he was living in Sleaford with Kimberleigh Joanne Steele, but he has also stayed at addresses in Grantham, Barnsley, Stamford and Halifax.
Knibbs was convicted in his absence on charges which included keeping and training dogs for fighting, ear cropping and causing unnecessary suffering to a bull terrier called Baddy and another called Panther by failing to provide veterinary care for their injuries.
Distressing footage found on Knibbs’ mobile phone showed dogs being forced to fight for up to 45 minutes and being trained on treadmills. One video showed a dog tied to a treadmill and forced to run – a common training technique used to build up strength for fighting dogs.
Text messages exchanged between ring members indicated that one fight lasted 45 minutes and had ended when a terrified Presa Canario jumped out of a window to escape pitbull terrier Baddy as the latter dog went in for the kill.
Another text made reference to one dog being able to crush another’s bones with one bite.
Though his current whereabouts are unconfirmed, Knibbs is rumoured to have fled to Southern Ireland.
Knibbs’ partner Kimberleigh Joanne Steele was also convicted in absence for aiding and abetting him in evading his ban.
Messages and photos on Knibbs’ phone led investigators to two other addresses: Stephen Gardner’s home in Willows End, Bloxholm, and a luxury property with its own swimming pool in Anglesey, Wales, where backyard breeder of Presa Canarios Adam Scott resides with partner, Rachel Pearce (she was also originally charged but claims to have been acquitted). A badly scarred dog named Panther was found at Scott’s address.
Scott was convicted for having in his possession two pitbull terrier-type dogs contrary to Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, as well as aiding and abetting a disqualification order for Knibbs.
RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall, from the charity’s Special Operations Unit who investigated, said: “Some of these dogs had been trained to fight and some of them had been left suffering with horrible injuries from fighting.
“Although we never found the body of Baddy, the pictures and subsequent text messages about the fight revealed that there were severe puncture wounds to his head and the enforced fight between Baddy and a much larger Presa Canario was gruelling, lasting a total of 45 minutes.
“The videos also showed further evidence of this cruel and barbaric practice and the suffering of these dogs would have been horrendous.”
Insp Withnall added: “This was an organisation involved in keeping and breeding of dogs for fighting, owned and run by Mr Knibbs, a convicted dog fighter who had changed his name to John Donaghy to try and remain undetected.
“The court heard that this group were set on breeding a very large dog, possibly for fighting which they referred to as the ‘ultimate dog’.”
Sentencing: Adam Scott: ordered to pay £3,000 in costs plus £80 victim surcharge; 100 hours of unpaid community work.
A warrant is out for the arrest of Stephen John Gardner, who failed to attend court.
#TheList Nathan James Kendrick, born c. 1993, of Wheatsheaf Lane, Gwersyllt, Wrexham LL11 – threw a Yorkshire terrier-type dog out of a first-floor window during an argument with his former partner
Habitual criminal Nathan Kendrick, whose 21 previous convictions include common assault, grievous bodily harm and drug dealing, hurled the helpless dog out of a bedroom window in front of his former partner Lucy Lewis and her two children. Miraculously the dog was uninjured.
Kendrick had been in an “on/off” relationship with Ms Lewis which she broke off two weeks before the incident.
When she went to collect her son from a nearby playing field, Kendrick followed them home and took the dog off the lead and said he was “going to hang the dog on Gwersyllt railway station”.
When she rang Kendrick later he told her it was “dead”.
She went round to his house and watched as Kendrick threw the dog from the bedroom window.
He then came out of his property and attacked Ms Lewis, almost pushing her in front of an oncoming vehicle.
In January 2019 Kendrick received an 18-week sentence for the attack on Ms Lewis and a further 18 weeks to run concurrently for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Kendrick’s barrister, Matthew Curtis, argued that his client had been treated harshly and a community sentence would have been more appropriate.
Curtis said: “There were a number of pushes on his former partner, but this was of lower culpability and the starting point is a medium-level community order,” said Mr Curtis
However, the judge said the custodial sentence reflected that Ms Lewis had been targeted and was in fear of suffering serious injury, adding that it was “more in luck that the dog was not maimed or killed”.
He described Kendrick as “controlling” and said that his “antecedents show a worrying lack of control and threatening behaviour and violence.”
#TheList Carl Stephen Hollis, born c. 1962, and Melanie Hollis, born c. 1967, both of 4x Warren Drive, Broughton, Chester CH4 0PT – for animal cruelty offences towards two dogs and five cats
The court heard that Carl Hollis, owner of a plastering and joinery business called Hollis Construction, was responsible for two elderly labrador dogs, both of whom were suffering from a skin condition. Five flea-riddled and underweight cats found at the property were the responsibility of Melanie Hollis. None of the pets had received veterinary treatment.
Prosecuting, Chris Murphy said the couple had received RSPCA advice and a voucher for veterinary care in September 2017 and December 2017 following concern for the two dogs.
When an RSPCA inspector visited the Hollises on June 30, 2018, she was informed the couple had gone on a two-week holiday, due to return on July 10, and had left their sons to periodically go round and check on the animals.
On initial sight there were 10 cats seen at the property and there was dried cat and dog food in the bowls.
It was noted both dogs had extensive hair loss and there was a strong smell of ammonia in the front room, with puddles on the floor and dirty water in the bowls.
In total there were seven cats, six kittens and two labradors at the property. However, it was accepted most of the cats were either strays or not owned by the couple.
All animals were taken to the vets to be checked over. None of the them were microchipped.
One of the cats – who was about 20 years old – had to be put to sleep, but the court heard that all of the other animals are doing well and that some had been rehomed.
When interviewed, Carl Hollis admitted to ownership of the dogs – who were in their mid to late teens – and said he did not take the dogs to the vet for fear they would be put to sleep.
Melanie Hollis accepted the cats had not received the veterinary care they should have. She admitted she had taken on “far more than she could chew” by letting in stray cats .
The couple’s two sons were spoken to and claimed that they had visited the property daily to check on the animals.
Defending Melanie Hollis, Richard Thomas said she had been looking after animals for more than 30 years and there had been no prior advice for her from the RSPCA regarding the welfare of the cats.
It had been accepted the 20-year-old cat was in poor health and was dying, and would likely be put to sleep if he had been taken to the vets, but “misplaced loyalty” meant his owner could not face doing it.
With all the animals at the home, the situation had “become slightly chaotic,” Mr Thomas added.
Although Carl Hollis was not represented, Mr Thomas said on his behalf: “He had owned these animals for 15-16 years; he tried to treat them at home but admittedly should have taken them to the vets. There was nothing deliberate about the mistreatment.”
Carl Hollis added: “I apologise for the mistreatment, I was ignorant.”
Sentencing: 12-month community order: Carl Hollis must complete 200 hours unpaid work while Melanie Hollis must do 150 hours unpaid work. Total of £530 each in costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
#TheList Michael Stephen Walsh, born 15/04/1964, of Bryntirion, Rhuallt, St Asaph, Denbighshire LL17 0TG – caused suffering to two little donkeys by leaving their severely overgrown hooves unkempt
Millionaire Michael Stephen Walsh changed his earlier plea to admit the Animal Welfare Act offence and was sentenced at Mold Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, November 20, 2018.
Another individual [most likely his wife, Judith Walsh] accepted a caution for their involvement in the poor care of the donkeys.
The RSPCA was notified of the case after members of the public saw the male donkeys with the severely overgrown hooves, causing them difficulty to walk. Veterinary examination discovered the hooves were in such poor condition that the donkeys endured suffering.
Donkeys thrive in semi-arid parts of the world, where the ground is dry and stony. Their hooves are much more efficient than horses at absorbing water, but this means the wet pasture of the UK can make their feet soft and cause foot diseases.
Most donkeys’ hooves require a trim every six to 10 weeks.
RSPCA inspector Jenny Anderton said: “The failure to provide adequate care for these donkeys’ overgrown hooves caused them to suffer.
“It is really sad how such basic action could have prevented this. A simple phone call to a farrier could have stopped these poor donkeys suffering.
“Fortunately, both donkeys will come into the care of the RSPCA and have a second chance of happiness. But this case reminds us how important proper appropriate care of hooves is for donkeys, and other equines.”
Sentencing: Walsh was fined £650 and ordered to pay £500 in costs and a £50 victim surcharge. He agreed to sign the animals into the care of the RSPCA.
Michael Stephen Walsh, with his brother Sean, set up lucrative business Anglia insurance repairs, which they sold for £37m in 2007.
The brothers later bankrolled their local football club Prestatyn Town but severed ties in 2012.
The business man, who is also a former soldier, now runs Walsh Investment Properties as well as carrying out charity work for ex-servicemen.
He has ploughed much of his fortune into renovating his massive farm house home in Rhuallt.
#TheList Joy Veronica Edwards, aged 61, and daughter Phillipa Edwards, aged 26, both of Cherrywood, Gwespyr, Holywell CH8 9LT – kept dogs, cats and horses in ‘eighteenth century conditions’ on their smallholding
Joy and Phillipa Edwards were banned from keeping dogs, cats and horses after the discovery of appalling animal neglect at their smallholding.
The RSPCA seized ten horses, three dogs and 15 cats from the property having been alerted to the conditions by a council pest controller.
One horse named Binka and a dog named Ben had to be put down and two cats were also later put down.
The animals were said to have been found in “18th or 19th century conditions”.
Horses in poor bodily condition were in a paddock which was wet and muddy and more like a pond. Outbuildings were dirty and had clearly not been cleaned for some time.
Cats were kept in cages in cluttered rooms.
Joy Edwards admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a Palamino mare known as Binka by failing to provide adequate veterinary care for a problem to her mouth, and for a problem with her fetlocks.
She also admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a collie dog known as Ben by failing to provide adequate veterinary care for his poor body condition and ulcerated skin.
She also failed to protect four cats by not providing veterinary care for ear mites and failing to provide adequate diet, especially ready access to fresh water.
Phillipa Edwards admitted failing to provide a Jack Russell terrier type dog known as Raven with a suitable environment and causing unnecessary suffering to one horse named Duckie
The court heard that the environment in which the animals were kept was not suitable and there was concern the defendants did not have the financial means or the physical ability to care for their animals.
Bob Vickery, defending, said that Joy Edwards was in a state of distress that one of her horses had been shot and the carcass left for her to dispose of. That had caused a huge amount of hurt, he said.
She accepted she should have had the horse put down earlier.
Binka had a genetic problem with her fetlocks and had a problem walking but she had bred the horse and had her a long time which coloured her judgement over when she should be destroyed.
She had been reluctant to have Ben the dog put down and had been away and had not been fully aware of his worsening condition.
Mr Vickery said “The animals are their life. They live in an isolated rural location.”
Their difficulties had been made worse by one of the worst winters on record and they were unable to move them to other sites because there were none available.
He said they had indicated a huge degree of remorse and were anxious to co-operate with the RSPCA.
A probation officer said that Joy Edwards completely disputed the RSPCA case against her despite her guilty pleas and said that as a result of bad press following the previous appearance they had lost a lot of friends and respect in the community.
She did not drink or smoke and animals were her “main passion.”
Phillipa Edwards was said to live an isolated life. She had been bullied in school and suffered significant mental health problems.
The judge said that society demanded that people who had animals looked after them properly.
They had been kept in conditions more akin to the 18th or 19th century, he said.
The inescapable conclusion was that there had been prolonged neglect, he said.
Sentencing: Joy Edwards – 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year with rehabilitation and 120 hours unpaid work. £150 costs and a £115 surcharge. Banned from owning horses, dogs and cats for eight years.
Phillipa Edwards – fined £300 with £150 costs and a £30 surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for three years.