#TheList Margaret Thomson Forsyth, born 1962, of 9x Unitas Crescent, Carluke, North Lanarkshire ML8 5AP – breached a 15-year ban on keeping animals imposed in 2006 following a case of appalling pet neglect
Forsyth kept the dogs locked in her kitchen and refused to walk, groom or clip them. The poodles were described as being “in a terrible state” when found living in squalor. All of them had advanced dental problems: their teeth were loose, one poodle’s jaw had disintegrated and another had a hole in the roof of hear mouth. Two of the dogs had to be euthanised to end their suffering.
Forsyth pleaded guilty to causing the dogs unnecessary suffering by failing to provide grooming and veterinary treatment.
Twelve years on and Forsyth was found to have breached her ban after Scottish SPCA officers discovered a 12-year-old Jack Russell dog, a 15-year-old female domestic short haired cat and a budgie at her property.
In December 2018 she was ordered to pay a £360 fine. An additional 21 month disqualification order was add on to her existing 15 year ban, which will now expire around May 2023.
The RSPCA originally took action against Ashcroft after finding the dogs infested with fleas and living in squalor at her then property in Pennine Avenue, Chorley.
RSPCA inspector Lisa Lupson said: “The conditions these animals were living in were absolutely shocking. There was faeces and urine all over the house. We had to put wellingtons on to go in, and of course the smell was horrendous.
“These were all very young animals, being forced to live in incredibly awful conditions, and suffering as a result. It’s taken a very long time to rid them of some of the infections they picked up whilst in Mrs Ashcroft’s care.”
Ashcroft had been due to stand trial but pleaded guilty at the eleventh hour to failing to meet the needs of nine of her dogs and causing unnecessary suffering to two of them.
At the time Ashcroft’s neighbours spoke of their relief that the dogs had been found a new home because they said their constant barking and noise made their lives hell.
Her next door neighbour said: “I never saw the dogs because they were always in the house, I’m glad something has been done to end this.”
Another neighbour said: “She has had dogs taken off her before but it is about time she was banned for life. Seven dogs in a semi-detached house with a small garden is not right and they are stuck in that house permanently.”
The cruelty first came to light in July 2007 when a one-year-old shih-tsu dog was found tied up inside Ashcroft’s garage – the dog was underweight and police were called to seize him.
A German shepherd puppy, a spaniel puppy, and a mastiff puppy, all aged 12 weeks, as well as a mastiff aged six months and a shih-tsu aged nine months were rescued the following week.
In September 2007 another three dogs were seized: a German shepherd puppy, a Border terrier-type aged two years and a Jack Russell puppy.
In January 2017 Ashcroft was back in court after being found found in possession of a rabbit. Six months later in June she was given a community order with a curfew for breaching her banning order by keeping a lurcher dog.
#TheList Pearl Barker of Ardmore Drive, Darlington DL1 3QB – neglected a German Shepherd dog, breached disqualification order twice
Barker had a cat and dog removed from her property in 2008 after an RSPCA vet found her German Shepherd had been neglected.
The dog weighed around 10kg less than the normal weight for his breed and he was found to have a severe flea problem which had not been treated.
The RSPCA issued a disqualification order to stop Barker from keeping any animals from 2008 until November 2018.
But two inspections at Barker’s flat in 2012 and 2015 found she had rabbits, cats and goldfish in her property.
Her original ten-year ban was extended by one year, but in 2016 Barker appealed to have her disqualification overturned. She told the court she missed the company of animals and hoped magistrates could see she had turned her life around.
But the RSPCA recommended that the ban should remain in place while Barker continues to adjust aspects of her life.
Prosecutor Kevin Campbell said: “This application is premature.
“The law is here to protect the animals and this case is not about her, it’s about the animals – we’re looking out for them.”
Chairman of the bench, Ruth Dent, said: “We’ve judged your application very carefully and while we realise you’ve made changes we feel this application is premature.”
Barker was told she must serve the rest of the ban until at least November 2017 before she can apply to own animals again.
#TheList Rosalind Gregson, born circa 1950, originally from Silverdale, Carnforth and as at 2018 living at 1 Laister Court, Bare Lane, Morecambe LA4 6LJ – kept 271 animals in her home in appalling conditions
Gregson originally faced 69 cruelty charges after RSPCA officers discovered 246 dogs, 16 birds, five cats, two kittens, a rabbit and a chinchilla when they raided her detached cottage in September 2003.
She admitted nine charges of causing unnecessary suffering to two Yorkshire terriers, three Shih Tzus, a Bichon Frise, an Old English sheepdog, and two Lhasa Apsos. Five of them had to be put to sleep to end their suffering.
A district judge at Preston magistrates’ court heard that when the RSPCA team raided Gregson’s £500,000 detached house at Silverdale, near Carnforth, Lancs, they were initially “overwhelmed” by the stench of ammonia and faeces. They found the animals living in virtually unlit, rat-infested rooms with little water and food. Most of the water they did have was contaminated with cat litter.
District judge Peter Ward was shown an RSPCA video which showed officers viewing the “dismal and depressing conditions”. The camera pans from cage to cage, showing dogs barely able to sit up. One RSPCA officer is heard to say: “How can they live in this? This is appalling.”
Some of the dogs are lifted out of their cages and held up in view of the camera. One, a Maltese terrier, is shown with her fur matted with what appears to be excrement. An officer says: “She’s in a terrible state.”
Another, a Shih-tzu, has matted fur and appears emaciated. Its weakness and reluctance to stand is attributed by a vet to the muscle wasting in its hind legs. The animal was later put down.
An emaciated Yorkshire terrier had a discharge coming from both eyes. Few of its teeth remained, its nails were overgrown and it had a severe skin infection. It, too, had to be put down.
Tim Bergin, prosecuting, said: “It is not the prosecution case that she maliciously caused cruelty to the animals in her home; simply that she allowed her obsession to collect animals to overwhelm her.”
Gregson initially denied 49 counts of failing to provide the animals with necessary care and attention but later changed her plea and admitted nine counts of causing them unreasonable suffering.
Gregson’s lawyer told the court her client’s obsessive animal collecting began when her son died from a drug overdose 15 years earlier. She said: “This is wholly about a tragic set of circumstances. It’s about sadness, it’s about isolation, it’s about the loss of a child, it’s about despair, it’s about obsession. The list just goes on and on.”
Asked why there were so many animals in the house, Gregson told police: “Because it got out of hand, its just an obsession, I couldn’t stop.”
RSPCA Inspector Sarah Hayland said the scene she found was beyond belief.
“It’s a normal looking property from the outside — and then to be faced with the room full of dogs.
“And we had no idea how many animals were in there, right until the second day when we’d been in all the rooms.
“It’s just the enormity of it, the amount of animals involved is something that I’ve never come across before and hope never to again”.
Sentencing: Jailed for 3 months – later altered to a three year Community Rehabilitation Order. Disqualified from keeping animals for life – overturned in July 2011.
#TheList Marc Ian Young, born 07/02/1980, from 9 Hawthorne Terrace, Ferryhill DL17 9AX and Paul Nigel Brown, born 27/04/1953, of 18 Lorton Road, Redcar TS10 4LY – kept dozens of diseased and injured dogs in appalling conditions on a farm.
Young and Brown were together convicted of 16 animal cruelty offences after 144 dogs were found mangy and unfed at Bog Hall Farm, Mordon, near Sedgefield, County Durham.
Prosecutor John Ellwood told the court how an investigation by the RSPCA led to a raid on Brown’s Bog Hall Farm in the spring of 2008.
More than 144 cross-breeds, lurchers and terriers were found living in cages, animal stables and even in the back of unused vehicles.
Dirt and faeces were compacted on floors, and the animals had what little sustenance they could get when dried food was thrown on top of this.
Seven dogs had infected wounds, 26 had dental problems and 13 dogs were close to death through emaciation.
All the animals had the parasites living in their fur.
Horrifyingly, dead dogs were being burned on a rubbish heap, and inspectors found the charred remains of one animal during a visit.
Brown would also apparently sell the dogs when he could for commercial gain and was seen as the leader of the enterprise, with Young in his pay.
Some 35 of the dogs had to be put down following the discovery.
In all, the case cost the RSPCA approximately £29,000 in veterinary bills, £14,000 in legal fees and an estimated £15,000 to investigate.
Brown pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty between February 27 and April 24, 2008.
His offences ranged from failing to provide sufficient food and veterinary care to a “catch-all” charge of failing to provide adequate care, said prosecutor John Ellwood.
Young had denied 11 of the animal welfare charges against him, which included:
Failing to give 102 dogs a wholesome diet;
Failing to provide necessary care for 144 dogs with flea and lice infestation;
Failing to give veterinary care to 26 dogs suffering from severe dental disease;
Failing to treat infected wounds on eight dogs;
Failing to obtain veterinary treatment for a dog with a fractured leg.
Young told the court he was overwhelmed with the workload and was following the orders of his boss, Paul Nigel Brown, who was the farm’s tenant at the time.
Finding Young guilty on all charges, Judge Simon Hickey said: “Mr Young admitted he knew it was wrong to throw food on the filthy floor of the pens. He knew he was failing to provide adequate care for the animals. He was embarrassed by the finding of excrement and smell of urine.
“This was prolonged neglect over a period of eight weeks. There must have been commercial motivation.
“You have to face up to the consequences of these animals suffering.”
He told Young: “I don’t accept the defence of only doing what you were told to do.”
Speaking after the hearing, RSPCA inspector Lucy Hoehne said: “We are happy with the sentences and happy they won’t be able to keep dogs for a number of years.”
Brown and Young were each sentenced to eight weeks in jail, suspended for 12-months.
They were both ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service and pay £260 costs.
Brown was banned from keeping dogs for 10 years (expires December 2019). Young was banned from keeping dogs for five years (expired December 2014).
Joel Joshua White (DoB 29/08/1989) currently of Graig Terrace, Senghenydd, Caerphilly CF83 4HN – tormented a 10wo kitten whom he eventually strangled to death.
In November 2008 White strangled a 10-week-old male kitten named Pepsi before putting his tiny body in a plastic bag in the freezer.
Aside from a penchant for animal cruelty White is by all accounts a nasty piece of work who used the much older woman with whom he was living – Pepsi’s owner – for money, food and shelter. There is a suggestion that he physically abused her.
The court heard that White was bisexual and that he enjoyed taunting the woman about his sexual exploits with men.
White had bought the kitten, along with two others, for the woman and it was just a few days later when the cruelty began.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, the woman told how White picked up Pepsi and threw him against a curtain. He then put the kitten into a lampshade “to see if he could do any tricks”. The animal fell down, seriously injured, and started to crawl across the floor. White picked Pepsi up once more and snapped his neck. He then wrapped him up in a pillow case and a plastic bag and put him in the freezer.
Despite the appalling cruelty he had inflicted on the tiny, defenceless animal, White received a pitifully short custodial sentence.
As at August 2018 White runs a photography business with wife Sinead. The latter is standing by her man despite being aware of his history of animal cruelty and psychological abuse.
Sentence: 16 weeks in a young offenders’ institution. Disqualified from owning or keeping an animal for 10 years (expires December 2019).
#TheList Jackie Hurst, born c. 1961, of 103 Southbourne Avenue, Walsall WS2 9TE and Katie Hurst, born c. 1988, of 39 Manor Road, Walsall WS2 9PU – failed to seek immediate treatment for pet dogs infested with worms and suffering skin disease
Two of four puppies belonging to Jacqueline and Katie Hurst died as they did not get veterinary care needed and the pair instead tried to treat the pets themselves. They admitted five offences of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Issues with mange and the eye conditions of the three-month-old rottweilers being looked after at two addresses in Forrester Street, Walsall, were raised after they finally took them for vet treatment.
Once the RSPCA became involved they had concerns about an adult rottweiler dog called Lady, four, and a Staffordshire bull terrier suffering similar ailments. Jacqueline Hurst’s partner Stanley Bates (pictured) was later convicted for neglect of those two dogs.
Mr Nick Sutton, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “These animals were suffering from a cocktail of ailments so serious they caused the death of two puppies. These people are not fit to have animals.”
The pair pleaded guilty to the charges.
Sentencing: £250 costs each. Jacqueline Hurst – supervision and curfew order. Katie Hurst – 120 hours of unpaid work plus supervision order. Both were disqualified from keeping animals for life.
#TheList serial cat killer Anthony John Docherty (DoB 31/12/1985) of 4 Woodburn Avenue, Glasgow G76 7TZ
In January 2009 Docherty tortured, mutilated and killed several cats, which he had stolen from houses in his neighbourhood of Clarkston, E Renfrewshire.
He is known to have killed three cats. All were decapitated, two were scalped, and one had its tail pulled off.
Three cat skulls were also found in his garden.
Dozens of pets had gone missing in the area and many cat owners feared their pets had fallen into evil Docherty’s hands.
The court heard psychiatric reports that Docherty’s behaviour could escalate towards humans.
He was banned from owning, keeping or taking charge of animals indefinitely.
In 2010 Docherty had his jaw broken in an apparent revenge attack. He was walking along the road when he was jumped and battered by two strangers — before a well-meaning passing motorist regrettably stopped to help him.
Sentence: jailed for 8 months; indefinite ban on keeping animals
#TheList Amersham horse trader James John Gray (05/09/1963), wife Julie Cordelia Gray (24/05/1967) and daughters Jodie June Gray (12/09/1982) and Cordelia Gray (29/05/1988) and James Gray junior (23/01/1993) – left more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys to starve among the rotting carcasses of other animals
In a case veterinary expert witness described as the worst case of animal cruelty they had ever seen, 31 equines were found dead at Spindle Farm, Chalk Lane, Hyde Heath, Amersham. Some 111 other horses, ponies and donkeys were rescued.
The massive rescue was co-ordinated by Thames Valley Police, Trading Standards and the RSPCA with help from the Horse Trust, the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the Blue Cross
Hooves and body parts of horses that had been left to die were scattered around and a grotesque mound made up of bones and skulls was discovered.
The horror scene was uncovered when RSPCA inspectors were called to the farm, where a horse-trading business run by the Gray family was based.
There were 140 animals at the farm and many were left with little food or dry bedding, were crammed into pens and ankle-deep in their own faeces.
In total 115 animals, some severely emaciated, had to be rescued and removed from the farm during a huge operation in January 2009.
Robert Seabrook QC told the court how two RSPCA inspectors visiting the farm in January 2008 were confronted with a “grotesque and distressing state of affairs”.
He said a number of horses were discovered in “disgusting pens”, some were tethered individually and others were loose in the paddocks.
The most extraordinary aspect he said was that many horses were next to carcasses in varying states of decomposition and the smell of rotting flesh was “over-powering”.
He added: “A number of animals that were found had plainly been dead for a number of days and as it turns out, some for many months.”
The court heard in one pen three severed hooves were found alongside the bodies of two other horses.
James Gray Sr was convicted of nine charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and two charges of failing to protect animals from pain, injury, suffering and disease.
His son James Gray Jr was convicted of identical charges although two were later overturned on appeal.
Gray’s wife, Julie, and daughters Cordelia and Jodie were found guilty of the two charges of failing to protect the animals.
No member of the family showed any sign of emotion as the judge passed sentence.
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Hampton described the conditions the horses were kept in as “grotesque”.
Speaking after the sentencing, Hampton said: “The RSPCA is pleased the district judge has recognised the extent of the cruelty, neglect and the suffering endured by the animals in this case.
“We see the disqualifications from keeping horses as an effective measure to prevent animals suffering in future.”
Sentencing: James Gray Sr was sentenced to six months in prison and banned from keeping horses, ponies and donkeys for life. He was also ordered to pay £400,000. Gray was given a further two months after absconding from court. Two of Gray’s convictions were overturned in 2010, but Gray was ordered to pay £600,000 towards the RSPCA’s legal costs and faced financial ruin. A later appeal against what Gray claimed were disproportionate legal costs was rejected.
James Gray Junior was given an 18-month supervision order. He was banned from keeping equines for 10 years with right of appeal after five (ban expired June 2019).
Julie, Jodie and Cordelia Gray were each given 150 hours of community service. They were also banned from keeping equines for 10 years, with the right of appeal after five (bans expired June 2019).
Julie Gray was ordered to pay £750 in costs, and Cordelia Gray and Jodie Gray £500 each.
Daniel ‘Winnie’ Winspear (DoB 18/11/1990) of Arncliffe Gardens, Hartlepool TS26 9JF – smashed a tortoise to pieces with a baseball bat
Drunken Daniel Winspear, who was aged 18 at date of conviction, carried out the attack on the defenceless creature – which is a protected species – at a house party.
Winspear was found in the conservatory in the early hours of May 23, 2008, with the bat in his hand and the dismembered tortoise next to him.
An RSPCA statement said: “This was an act of gruesome, sadistic cruelty and the magistrates sentence, including the disqualification, reflected not only the magistrates’ disapproval but society’s disapproval of such acts.”
Winspear had been invited to the party by a cousin who was already there. But on arrival he was “very drunk.”
John Ellwood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “While at the house he took a small baseball bat and smashed a tortoise to death.”
The teenager who lived at the house then came into the conservatory and saw “the mess everywhere” and asked what had happened.
Mr Ellwood added: “Mr Winspear appeared to have the baseball bat in his hand and was smiling and accused one of the other boys of having done it.
“On further inquiries he admitted he had done it and was told to leave.
“The young man and his friends tried to clean up the mess and put the tortoise in the bin.
“Unfortunately they kept finding bits of the tortoise splattered about the conservatory and the smell was truly grim.”
The pet’s owners rushed back from their holiday in Blackpool after hearing about the sickening act, and they immediately called the RSPCA.
A vet from the charity said the tortoise had not died instantly but “suffered between the repetitive blows.”
In interview with RSPCA inspectors, Winspear said he was too drunk to remember doing it.
The chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Katie Brown, said: “The photos we saw made sickening viewing and you really should have faced up to what you did.
“You committed this while under the influence of alcohol which is indicative of the perils of alcohol abuse.”
Winspear was allowed to appeal against the ban on looking after animals after five years.
Sentence: 18-month community order with 250 hours of unpaid work; costs of £1,652.71 to cover RSPCA, vet and solicitor bills; banned from keeping animals for 10 years (expires March 2019).