#TheList John Bowers, born c. 1989, of 201 Albertbridge Road, Belfast BT5 4PU – physically abused a dog
John Bowers, who also faced charges of assault and racial harassment, was seen grabbing a Staffy-type dog by the scruff of the neck and throwing him over a garden wall. He then lifted the dog up a second time and threw him down on his back.
The fate or identity of the dog is unknown but our photo shows Bowers’ dog, Dre, who is believed to be dead.
In June 2020 Bowers was jailed for 10 months after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal in addition to two counts of harassment and common assault.
Defence barrister Sean Mullan detailed his client’s battle with alcohol addiction.
“He’s keen to draw a line under all these matters,” counsel said.
Imposing five months custody for the offences, Mr Hamill ordered Bowers to serve a further five months from previously suspended prison terms.
The judge also imposed two-year restraining orders for the racially-aggravated harassment, and banned Bowers from keeping any animal for five years.
Sentencing: custodial. Five-year ban on keeping an animal.
#TheList Sarah ‘Marie’ McGahan, born 11/11/1967 of 2 Belvedere Manor, Lurgan, Craigavon BT67 9NW – failed to ensure the welfare of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and her puppies.
In a case brought by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, Marie McGahan pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences relating to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and her pups.
This followed an investigation in 2018 as a result of information from the public.
McGahan had failed to make the necessary improvements to the cleanliness of the area in which dogs were kept and a litter of pups were found in squalid conditions at her home.
McGahan was deemed to be in breach of a notice requiring her to maintain a clean environment for the animals in her care.
A council spokesperson said: “The judge in this case saw fit to impose a five-year ban from keeping animals because the defendant persistently neglected the needs of her dogs and flagrantly disregarded animal welfare legislation.
“This case serves as a reminder that the council will investigate complaints and bring forward legal proceedings against those who do not take reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of their animals.”
Sentencing: fined £150 and ordered to pay council costs of £226. Five-year Disqualification Order in respect of all animals.
#TheList John Joseph Boyle, born 17/09/1965, of 663 Springfield Road, Belfast BT12 7HD – beat an injured dog to death with two hammers
John Boyle, formerly of Ardilea Court, Ardoyne, admitted killing his pet dog with two hammers after she had been hit by a car. He then dumped her remains in a wheelie bin. The horrific incident took place on 23 November 2017.
Officers went to Boyle’s house after being called by a concerned neighbour who had seen him with the ailing pet and who was worried he would not seek proper care for her injuries.
When Boyle was questioned about the whereabouts of the pup, he said a friend had taken her away to a farmhouse in the countryside.
But when his house and yard were searched, the body of the dog and two bloodied hammers were discovered.
He then admitted killing his pet and said he couldn’t afford to take her to the vet.
A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: “This was a particularly extreme and harrowing case.
“Belfast City Council brought the prosecution after animal welfare officers followed up on a report that a dog had been knocked down by a car and injured,” they explained.
“Mr Boyle took a hammer and killed the dog, placing it in a wheelie bin.
“Animal welfare officers attended the property at Ardilea Court and found the dog’s body. They seized a wooden mallet and metal hammer from the property, both with evidence of dried blood on them.”
The court viewed the offence as so serious that it justified a jail term.
Boyle will serve his sentence in Maghaberry Prison.
Sentencing: six months in jail; fines totalling £264. Banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
#TheList Sheena McCartney, born 15/11/1971, of 15 Drumellan Walk, Moyraverty, Craigavon BT65 5NH – persistently neglected her dogs
Sheena McCartney was banned from keeping animals for five years after failing to ensure the welfare of two dogs in her care.
She was convicted on three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a Rottweiler with an eye condition, failing to comply with an improvement notice requiring her to bring the dog to a vet for treatment, and wilfully neglecting the needs of both the Rottweiler and a lurcher.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council pursued the prosecution under the provisions of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 after completing an investigation, which was initiated by a report from a member of the public who was concerned about the dogs’ welfare.
McCartney initially did not respond to contact from the Council, and when she did, an improvement notice was issued to her requiring her to seek treatment for the Rottweiler’s eye condition.
This was not complied with and due to her lack of co-operation, a warrant to enter her property was secured.
The Animal Welfare Officer subsequently visited McCartney’s property with a vet, who assessed the Rottweiler as suffering and the lurcher as being likely to suffer given the conditions in which he was being kept.
Both dogs were immediately taken into Council care and later rehomed.
A Council spokesperson commented: “The judge in this case saw fit to give a custodial sentence in addition to a disqualification from keeping animals because the defendant persistently neglected the needs of her dogs’ and flagrantly disregarded animal welfare legislation.
Sentencing: custodial sentence suspended for 18 months. Ordered to pay £84 in costs. Banned from keeping animals for five years.
#TheList backyard breeder Robert Milliken, born 25/05/1986, of 81 Rathkyle, Antrim BT41 1LQ – for the wilful neglect of four dogs
Father-of-three Robert Milliken was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to four dogs – two hounds and two Patterdale terriers kept in pens at a property in Ballyutoag Hill in Crumlin.
Lawyers for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, who brought the case, confirmed that a complaint had been received about dogfighting and living conditions relating to the animals.
When a visit was made to the property, 13 dogs were found across three pens.
In one pen, there was a terrier-type dog with a wound to his lip while a second pen containing seven dogs was riddled with faeces.
In the third pen, there was a terrier and four underweight hounds. One dog had a swollen muzzle which was bloody.
The court heard that a vet attended and determined that the two terriers and two of the hounds were suffering and should be seized.
On a subsequent visit to the premises inspectors were met with a strong smell of urine. Two dogs were running loose. One of them was described as pot-bellied with swollen glands while the other was underweight.
No water or food was available to the dogs and when offered water one of the dogs drank so much she vomited.
These dogs were also seized.
Milliken’s lawyer told the court that his client was an animal lover who had kept dogs for many years. He had, however, lost stability in his life after the breakdown of his marriage and had been “bingeing on drugs”.
He told the court that his client – a trained butcher who had struggled to find work – had been sentenced on three years in prison in 2009 for an unrelated, unspecified crime and was terrified of going back to jail.
He urged the judge to consider his client’s circumstances when arriving at her judgement.
District Judge Oonagh Mullan was unconvinced, however, describing photos of the animals as ‘horrendous’ before she lamented the ‘suffering they must have undergone and the conditions they were living with’. She added that Milliken’s treatment of his dogs amounted to “willful neglect”.
After rising to consider her options, District Judge Mullan suspended the operation of the four-month sentences for three years and imposed the ban and order for costs.
Sentencing: four-month suspended prison sentence. Costs of £349. Banned from keeping animals for ten years.
#TheList Angela Michelle McMullan, born 12/08/1971, 5 Ballyearl Way, Newtownabbey BT36 5BZ – for starving her dog
Mother-of-three Angela McMullan pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to her pet dog. The charge was brought against McMullan by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011.
Council Animal Welfare Officers attended the property on April 9, 2019 following reports of concerns for a dog. On initial examination of the unnamed dog they contacted the council vet to attend.
A vet who examined the dog advised he was a very thin Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross with his ribs, spine and pelvic bones clearly visible. The vet gave the dog a body score of 1/5 which was deemed excessively thin.
The dog also had fur loss along his tail, head and muzzle. The vet stated the dog was suffering and advised removal.
The dog was voluntarily signed over to the council and successfully re-homed
Sentencing: two-year conditional discharge. Ordered to pay costs of £437.75. Disqualified from keeping or caring for any animals for 10 years.
#TheList Samantha Kerrigan, born 01/08/1985, of Spencer Road, Londonderry BT47 – for the abandonment of a dog that was found hanging, alive, from a first-floor window of Kerrigan’s home
Samantha Kerrigan admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on or before 1 October 2017.
The court heard that police were called to an address in Spencer Road after reports of a dog hanging from a first-floor window.
Members of the public got a ladder and rescued the dog, a female Bull Terrier.
Police forced entry into the flat and there was a strong smell of dog excreta.
The court heard the dog drank two litres of water in a very short space of time when given it by police and also ate food.
A vet determined that the dog was in danger of falling out the window and had been neglected with no access to water and being left alone in the flat.
The defendant contacted police to confirm ownership of the animal but failed to attend for interview.
The court was told the dog was euthanised a month later. The reason for this is unclear.
Defence solicitor, Maoiliosa Barr, said Kerrigan would class herself as an animal lover. He said that Kerrigan suffered from addiction issues and added she was “barely able to look after herself never mind anything else.”
The solicitor said that the dog was supposed to go to a friend of her partner but he had been sent to prison so she had taken the dog.
He said she was “very upset” when she heard what happened to the dog.
District Judge Barney McElholm said if it wasn’t for Kerrigan’s health she would have gone straight to prison.
Sentencing: eight months in prison suspended for two years. A 10-year ban on keeping any animals.
#TheList Arthur Donaldson, born 18/02/1977, of 68 Parkmore, Knockmenagh, Craigavon, Co Armagh BT64 2AF – failed to seek veterinary care for his dog’s (unexplained) head injury
Donaldson was convicted of failing to ensure the welfare of an unnamed 19-month-old female German Shepherd in his care.
The case against Donaldson was heard at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Friday, October 18, 2019.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council brought the case against Donaldson under the provisions of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 following a report from a member of the public who was concerned about the dog’s welfare.
An Animal Welfare Officer visited the defendant’s property in July 2017 and spoke to him regarding a head injury the dog had sustained.
He was then advised to ensure the dog received veterinary treatment as a matter of urgency which he failed to do.
The Animal Welfare Officer later returned to the property with a veterinary surgeon who assessed the dog as being likely to suffer as the wound had become infected. The dog was taken into the care of the council and subsequently rehomed.
Sentencing: fined £500 and ordered to pay a further £424 in fees.
#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.