#TheList Simon James Hancock, born 20/04/1982, of 28 Terrier Close, Southampton SO30 2ND – shot a dog in the head four times with an air rifle before dumping him in a wooded area and leaving him for dead.
The court was told how on July 11, 2018, Hancock attempted to destroy the 15-month-old dog, known as Jet, who belonged to his former partner.
After shooting Jet four times with an air rifle, Hancock dumped him in bushes close to his home in Hedge End, where he suffered, alone, for five days.
When the dog was was finally discovered, he had collapsed and was infested with thousands of fly eggs around the pellet holes.
Jet’s microchip details identified Hancock’s former partner as the owner, and investigations by the animal charity began.
An air rifle found in Hancock’s home was examined by forensics and it was accepted that it was the weapon used to shoot Jet, although Hancock claimed it had been dumped on his doorstep the same morning as the search warrant.
He claimed a friend named Paul, whom he said he has since been unable to trace and didn’t know his surname, was given to Jet after it is claimed the young terrier bit his ex-partner’s daughter.
Hancock’s version of events was not believed by the court and in May 2019 he was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
RSPCA Inspector Graham Hammond said: “Jet was treated in a shockingly brutal manner, being shot in the head four times, then dumped while still alive but horrendously injured.
“You cannot begin to imagine the suffering this dog went through during the five days he was left alone and injured.
“Thankfully he has survived and has made a very good recovery.
“He’s such a happy, friendly dog who loves everyone he meets. It’s amazing to see him thriving in his new home.
“More than £5,000 was spent on veterinary care.
“He was very touch-and-go at times and he lost hearing in one ear because an ear canal had to be removed. His vision has also been affected.”
Sentencing: 200 hours of community service; £1,600 in costs. Banned from keeping animals for just 10 years.
#TheList John Chris Joshua Bunting (DoB 24/03/1995) of Garstang Road North, Wesham, Preston PR4 – caught on camera beating his pet dog.
Bunting pleaded guilty to one offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the dog, known as Disco, under the Animal Welfare Act.
The RSPCA was called by police on 8 September 2018 after they had arrested Bunting, seized the dog, and taken him to a vet practice.
RSPCA inspector Alison Fletcher said: “I met Disco before I saw the footage, which is distressing to watch.
“He was brought into the room by a male vet and he was extremely frightened. He had no obvious injuries but it was impossible to touch him without causing him distress.
“When I attempted to pick him up to place him in the kennel at the rear of my van and take him to the animal centre he went into blind panic. I did eventually manage to coax him inside after around 20 minutes of sitting with him and calmly reassuring him.”
In the first of three video clips Bunting can be seen entering the rear garden of a property on Garstang Road North, Wesham and walk over a grassed area partially out of view. A dog can be heard to cry out. He then appears at the corner of the house holding Disco in his left hand, by the scruff of the neck. He strikes the dog with his right hand a number of times while carrying him into the house. Disco can be heard to cry out again a number of times.
A second clip shows shadowy figures behind the frosted glass of the rear house door. Noises consistent with a slap and a dog vocalising can be heard. The door opens, a man’s voice can be heard to shout “Get out” and Disco runs out into the garden followed by Bunting. The dog runs onto the grassy area and sits down with his back to the garden wall and facing the house. The dog remains in the garden and Bunting returns back into the house.
A third clip shows Bunting standing over Disco before picking him up by the neck. Bunting carries Disco over to a brick-built outhouse within which the dog is placed. Bunting picks up a long piece of polystyrene and repeatedly hits something inside the outhouse. It is not clear whether he is striking Disco, though this was admitted by Bunting in interview.
The court heard that Bunting handled Disco in the manner seen in the footage because Disco wouldn’t go to the toilet, and would sit on the grass and not want to come in, then when he came back into the house he would urinate and defecate there. He said that he was trying to move Disco from behind the door to mop the floor.
Veterinary opinion was that it was likely that Disco had been subjected to shouting or violence when urinating and defecating, which caused him to become anxious when performing these bodily functions. It continued that this had led to him associating the garden with a place in which he experienced anxiety. In a similar way, when Disco urinated or defecated in the house and he was punished, there would be an association with an unpleasant experience in the house.
“This poor dog was in turmoil, caused to suffer physically and mentally,” said Inspector Fletcher.
“It has taken a great deal of love, patience and training from the wonderful staff caring for him at RSPCA Southport, Ormskirk and District Branch Animal Centre, but I saw him today and he’s like a different dog.
“I’m very happy to say that he’ll be looking for a new home soon.”
Sentence: 18-month community order, 15 rehabilitation action requirement days, 300 hours of unpaid work, ordered to pay £500 costs and £85 victim surcharge. Disqualified from keeping animals for four years
#TheList Paul Oliver, born c. 1978, and Hannah Rose, born c. 1988, both of Sutton Crosses, Long Sutton, Spalding PE12, Paul Reece, born c. 1970, of Grove View, Usk Road, Chepstow NP16 6SA and Julie Elmore, born c. 1963, of 6 Brynarw Estate, Abergavenny NP7 7ND – convicted of animal cruelty after fox cubs were fed to hounds
Footage obtained by a group called the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) was instrumental in the successful prosecution of Paul Oliver, master of hounds with the now disbanded South Herefordshire Hunt.
Oliver was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty for allowing his hounds to kill four fox cubs and was handed a 16-week suspended jail sentence for causing their “painful, terrifying” deaths.
District Judge Joanna Dickens, sitting at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, also imposed a 12-week suspended sentence on Oliver’s partner, Hannah Rose, the hunt’s kennel maid.
The pair were ordered to pay £300 in costs and a £115 victim surcharge after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering.
HIT, a relatively new group whose members include ex-services personnel, received training in covert investigative methods.
They fixed a device to Oliver’s Land Rover following a tip-off and tracked him to a site where they suspected he was catching fox cubs in May 2016.
They also set up cameras at the hunt’s kennels and obtained footage they said proved Oliver was catching cubs and taking them back to his hounds to “blood” them.
The court heard that one camera recorded Oliver dumping the bodies of two cubs in a wheelie bin.
The activists are said to have taken legal advice from lawyers and animal welfare organisations who told them they could not recover the cubs as this would amount to theft.
They said they did not pass the case to the police because they did not believe officers would have the resources to follow it up.
HIT members, who are involved in several ongoing investigations, are so worried about reprisals that one was allowed to give evidence during the seven-day trial from behind a screen.
Julie Elmore and Paul Reece admitted two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to cubs which were distressed by being transported to the kennels.
Elmore and Reece were given conditional discharges and ordered to pay costs of £50 after the judge said both had been “motivated by consideration” for two fox cubs.
A fifth defendant, Nathan Parry, born c. 1978, also of Brynarw estate, was cleared of all charges.
Parry took foxes to kennels but was found not guilty after the judge accepted he believed they would be relocated in the wild.
Martin Sims, director of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports and former head of the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “We believe the incidents show that hunts are clearly still hunting as the poor fox cubs were thrown into the kennels to give the hounds a taste for blood.
“The barbarity of these incidents is sickening and will horrify the vast majority of the British public who are overwhelmingly opposed to fox hunting.”
Deborah Marshall, HIT spokeswoman, said: “This case has taken far too long to come to court and we have faced false allegations against investigators and obstruction throughout. We are glad that justice has finally taken its course.
“The capture of fox cubs to be used to train hounds is nothing new and is widespread across Britain, as is the mass destruction of healthy hounds to make way for younger ones. We will continue to expose cruelty and wildlife crime.”
#TheList Kyle Keegan, born c. 1994, of 7 Gilpins Manor, Lurgan BT66 8AG – filmed himself bludgeoning a 12-week-old puppy to death with a hammer; broadcast the killing on social media
In a case that has dragged on for several months puppy killer Kyle Keegan finally confessed to his evil crime on 4 June 2019.
He has been bailed to appear for sentencing on 4 July.
The court heard how the bloodied remains of the 12-week-old pup, named Sparky, were uncovered in a bin in the Ailsbury Park area of Lurgan after a house party. An initial postmortem on the pup’s remains revealed how she had sustained a number of fractures as well as severe brain trauma.
At one stage there had also been allegations that Sparky’s body had been put into a microwave and tissue samples were sent to Scotland for expert analysis but to date, no evidence of that has been forthcoming.
Previous courts have also heard how police conducted enquiries with social media outlets after the incident was broadcast online.
District Judge Bernie Kelly revealed how she had been sent a photograph of the incident which claimed the life of Sparky the dog.
The judge said: “I’m shocked I’m going to say this but [it was done] for someone’s entertainment.”
“I have been in this post for more than 35 years and I have never in my life come across something as cruel as what’s alleged in this case,” declared Judge Kelly.
#TheList Jodie Mulcrow, born c. 1993, and David Herbst, born 01/11/1991, both of Wigan Road, Leigh WN7 – launched a violent attack on their own dog, causing her horrific facial wounds
Herbst and Mulcrow were given suspended sentences after magistrates heard how their Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Emily, suffered shocking injuries from “blunt force trauma” whilst in their care.
The pair, who have three children, were both convicted of three animal abuse charges – which include failing to seek veterinary care, failing to get treatment for a skin condition and failing to protect a dog from pain and suffering.
They were found guilty following a trial which they did not attend back in April 2019.
During their sentencing hearing, RSPCA prosecutor Anna McDonald showed the bench images of the dog’s injuries.
Herbst and Mulcrow both denied causing the wounds, but magistrates heard how a truncheon spiked with nails was found on their property.
Ms McDonald told the bench how, in September 2018, the couple’s neighbour had been in her back garden when she heard the dog yelp next door.
“She asked if he (Herbst) had hit the dog,” she said. “He denied it.
“On November 23 he went over to his neighbour’s in a panic. Emily had a cut on her head over her eye. She advised him to take the dog to the vets.”
Concerned about Emily’s welfare, the neighbour said she would take the dog to the vets herself if the couple didn’t.
“She could see that there was a puncture wound on the dog’s left cheek,” added Ms McDonald. “She contacted the RSPCA about the dog’s injuries.”
The dog was treated for the wounds to her eye and upper lip and put on painkillers.
She was later taken to Greater Manchester Animal Hospital, where vets determined that her injuries had been sustained a few days previously as a result of “blunt force trauma”.
When interviewed by RSPCA officers, the couple said that they had had “family dog” Emily for between two-and-a-half and three years.
Regarding her skin condition, they said that they had tried treating it, but it hadn’t worked.
Herbst said that he had let Emily in the field at the back of the couple’s house and that she had “come back” with the injuries to her head.
They said they didn’t have money to take her to the vet.
Ms McDonald told magistrates that Mulcrow said Emily had never been to see a vet and that she didn’t believe the dog had suffered because of her injuries.
Defending, Nick Woosey said: “He (Herbst) believed it was a deliberate injury but it wasn’t down to him. They regularly let the dog out in the field, he didn’t think anything of it.”
The bench said they were “horrified” by the images of the dog’s wounds.
Sentencing: eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months; £615 each in costs. Banned from owning an animal for 20 years.
#TheList Georgina Anne Bretman, born c. 1989, of Glebefield Road, Helensburgh G84 8SZ – injeced her own dog with insulin causing the animal to suffer hypoglycaemia, collapse, convulsions and seizures.
Attention-seeking veterinary nurse Bretman injected black-and-white cocker spaniel, Florence, with a drug that made the animal collapse and suffer from convulsions and seizures.
The two-year-old pup required immediate veterinary treatment to avoid falling into a coma and dying.
Bretman was convicted of causing the animal unnecessary suffering by injecting her with insulin.
Although no explanation was offered as to why the vet nurse had harmed her pet, the court was told that she was an “attention-seeker”.
On one occasion her employer, A&E Vets, gave Bretman an evening off – then correctly predicted that, within a few hours, her dog would suddenly become ill and be brought back to the surgery requiring emergency treatment.
Sheriff Joan Kerr found Bretman guilty of a charge under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, of injecting Florence with insulin resulting in her requiring immediate treatment to “avoid coma or death”.
Florence returned to good health in the care of the Scottish SPCA.
Sheriff Kerr said: “Flo was vulnerable and completely dependant on you for her care.
“Your motivation to cause her this suffering may never be known, you have chosen not to shed any light on that when you spoke to a social worker.
“You have expressed no remorse for causing Flo such suffering.”
Her former employer, Lesley Herd, became suspicious after Florence was brought in for emergency treatment on several separate occasions – always suffering from the same mysterious symptoms.
During Bretman’s trial, Mrs Herd said: “The dog was fine between episodes so I really didn’t know what was going on with the dog at all, we couldn’t understand why she was having these episodes.”
Mrs Herd said that, on one occasion, she took blood samples from Florence to send to the Glasgow University Vet School for testing. Although Bretman volunteered to deliver the samples, they never arrived.
Mrs Herd said: “Initially she didn’t want any bloods taken to the vet school, then agreed it was really the only way forward if we were going to find out what was going on.
“She volunteered to take the blood to the vet school. Later I found out the blood had never arrived at the vet school.”
She told the court: “Because of the pattern of collapse and low blood glucose on each occasion and the fact that the dog was normal between episodes, I was suspicious insulin had been administered to the dog.”
She described Bretman as “quite attention seeking” and added: “I had said to my partner she will find an excuse to come in to the clinic because she’s not happy about having the night off and I said ‘I bet Flo collapses tonight’, and it did happen.”
Bretman was later suspended and sacked from her job.
Mrs Herd contacted the SSPCA because of her concerns.
In evidence Bretman denied the charge and said she wasn’t responsible and only ever wanted to find out what was wrong with Flo.
It was put to her during her evidence: “It might be suggested you took a dislike to the dog, that’s why you harmed her.”
Bretman said: “Not at all, I put a lot of energy in. She was my companion.”
Defence counsel Craig Findlater handed 18 pages of references to the sheriff for consideration before his client was sentenced.
He told the court she is now unemployed and has moved back to her family home.
Mr Finldater said: “She has grown up with animals around her. She is educated to degree level and gained employment within her chosen profession, that is caring for animals.”
Sentencing: community payback order of 140 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping dogs for two years (expires September 2019).
==== In May 2019, the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee struck Bretman off the register.
The committee found Bretman’s actions in deliberately administering a poisonous substance to Florence, thereby risking her death, to be “very serious and deplorable conduct on the part of a veterinary nurse, a member of a profession specifically entrusted to look after and care for animals”.
It also took into account the fact Florence needed urgent veterinary treatment to avoid death and that Bretman was in a position of trust over Florence as her owner.
#TheList Christopher Edward Bound, born 17/12/1993, of Rothley Drive, Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury SY3 5BB – subjected a two-year-old pug to a prolonged violent beating, eventually killing her
Cocaine user Bound punched, kicked and threw the black pug named Shelby against a wall as she screeched in pain, before police arrived and found him with his T-shirt covered in blood.
Neighbours alerted police immediately after hearing and witnessing the beating on February 24, 2019.
Bound, who is originally from Newtown in Shropshire, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Kate Price, prosecuting, told Telford Magistrates Court: “At around 10.30pm to 10.45pm the neighbour heard a loud screeching sound and the defendant shout ‘get back in your bed’.
“They looked out of the window and saw him kicking something. Every time he kicked there was a screeching sound.
“The neighbour went back into their house and the defendant carried on hurting the dog. They continued to watch and he saw him throw the dog at the patio door.
“Then he picked it up and threw it against a wall. Bound kicked it a few more times before washing his hands. The neighbour was too distressed to carry on watching and called police.”
Bound was then seen taking his top off and continued to kick and punch the dog. “The screeching was getting quieter and quieter each time,” added Mrs Price. “Officers arrived and saw the blood on his T-shirt and found the dog in its bed. They established it had severe injuries.”
Shelby was taken to a vet for an emergency appointment, but could not be saved and died from internal bleeding.
Defence agent Adrian Roberts said: “He had a normal life until his brother died of cancer in 2013. Before that happened he was a reasonably successful sportsman, playing for local rugby and cricket teams in Newport, and he had a good job with Laura Ashley.
“He turned to cocaine to numb his feelings.”
Mr Roberts described Bound’s girlfriend, Georgia O’Keefe, who is standing by him despite the killing and was in court with his father, as a “stable influence”, and added that Bound had suffered with depression and anxiety.
“Clearly he’s a man who needs help,” he said.
After the case, Simon Paulo from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “As a nation of dog lovers this was a sad case to prosecute.
“Domestic animals are protected in England and Wales. Owners have a responsibility towards the welfare of their pets.
“I would like to commend the neighbours for calling the police when they witnessed this brutality taking place. I urge anyone who may witness any form of animal cruelty to report it as a criminal offence so that justice can be served.”
Sentencing: 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months; 35 rehabilitation days. Costs and charges totalling £1,200. Banned from owning animals for life.
#TheList Sean Ward, born c. 1991, originally from Greenock and more recently of Dougliehill Terrace, Port Glasgow PA14 – kept fighting dogs for killing wildlife including badgers, deer and foxes
Violent career criminal and wildlife persecutor Sean Ward was jailed for seven months after Scottish SPCA investigators uncovered evidence of his appalling animal cruelty. This included text messages in which Ward described setting dogs on a fox as “some buzz” as well as a sick video showing a live deer being restrained by it hind legs as voices urged dogs to attack it.
Photographs of Ward smiling beside the dead animal later emerged.
Ward was caught after a dog walker spotted him out with an injured dog in Port Glasgow in April 2018.
The black and white Jack Russell terrier was limping, had cuts and blood on her limbs and chest as well as a severe injury to her face.
The dog walker filmed the injured dog and sent footage to the Scottish SPCA.
The court heard police officers and Scottish SPCA investigators carried out a series of raids at Ward’s home after receiving the video from the concerned dog walker.
On one occasion, they found a Patterdale Terrier with scars on her face.
The animal was taken to a Scottish SPCA facility where she was examined by a vet. He found that the injuries were consistent with face-to-face fighting with a badger.
The vet viewed the film taken of the Jack Russell. In his opinion, the dog’s injuries were also consistent with face-to-face fighting with a badger.
A mobile phone seized during a search of Ward’s home was examined and a number of images and video were found.
One of the photographs showed Ward with a dead deer, a white lurcher and a Jack Russell.
A video of three dogs savaging a deer was also found where people were heard urging the dogs to attack.
Sara Shaw, head of the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), welcomed the sentence.
She said: “These dogs caused terrible and unnecessary suffering with numerous wounds and scars.
“COPFS will continue to work to ensure those who participate in this barbaric practice are prosecuted and would encourage anyone who may have information on dog fighting to contact the police or Scottish SPCA.”
Sentencing: Jailed for seven months. Banned from keeping animals for 20 years.
#TheList poacher Arron Crighton, born c. 1997, of Kismet Street, Sunderland SR5 2LG – made shocking videos of his dogs brutally killing foxes; posted graphic photos and videos online showing horrific injuries suffered by both dogs and foxes
Arron Crighton admitted offences under the 2001 Animal Welfare Act and 2004 Hunting Act after using his black whippet, Jet, to attack and kill foxes.
Police were alerted to a number of videos made by Crighton, which included footage of a dog fighting with a fox and a person appearing to hold the fox down with their foot.
A second video showed two dogs with their jaws locked around the fox’s neck and body, while a picture was also taken showing Crighton and others holding a dog which had a bloodied fox in his mouth.
After being made aware of the social media posts, police executed a warrant at an address on Kismet Street, Sunderland, and seized a mobile phone belonging to Crighton.
Investigators discovered hundreds of shocking photos and videos showing the attacks and subsequent injuries of the animals saved on the phone.
Asked why he’d initiated the illegal activity in interview, Crighton responded “for sport”. He also claimed that if one dog was injured by the fox, he would “put another dog on”.
PC Peter Baker, of Northumbria Police, said: “The photographs and videos that Arron Crighton made are incredibly distressing and showed a total disregard for the welfare of these animals.
“Crighton took a great deal of satisfaction out of filming this barbaric and criminal activity and then posted the trophy pictures online.
“It is blatantly clear that he cannot be trusted to own an animal and ensure it is adequately protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. On this occasion, both Crighton’s own dog and the foxes suffered horrific injuries.
“This investigation was launched following information provided to police by a member of the public who saw the videos online and were rightly disgusted by them. I would urge anyone who sees poaching offences and cruelty of this type online to get in touch.
“This case should act as a reminder to all pet owners that anybody who fails to ensure an animal’s welfare is met could face criminal action. We would always ask anybody who witnesses cruelty or an animal in distress to contact the RSPCA direct or call 101.”
Jet– who was frightened but gentle in nature when officers located him– has been rehomed.
Sentencing: Jailed for 18 weeks. Banned from owning any animal for 10 years.
#TheList minors aged 16 and 17 years from Milford Haven – stole a tame pet chicken from her owner and tortured her to death.
Chicken Daisy was subjected to a prolonged and brutal attack at the hands of two sadistic savages and others, during which she was chased, set alight and had her neck hacked at with garden shears. She was finally killed with a pitchfork. The pet’s agonising ordeal was filmed for Snapchat and shared with other feral yobs in the group for their sick entertainment.
Daisy’s ordeal took place at the home of a third youth who was investigated but not charged.
In court a veterinary surgeon described the youths’ actions as “gratuitous torture”.
Daisy’s owner Michelle Owen wrote a victim impact statement which was read to the court.
“When I discovered Daisy was gone I blamed myself, I thought I hadn’t secured the coop. My youngest two children were devastated when Daisy had gone, they were crying over her,” she said.
“Daisy was very tame and friendly, it’s not the same going to the coop. I always thought my garden was safe and secure, now I don’t leave my dogs out in case they disappear.
“When I think about what happened that night and the way Daisy suffered, it goes beyond cruelty.
“She was a part of the family, more than just a chicken.”
Defending the youths in court, Mike Kelleher said that the pair were facing the consequence of their “reprehensible” actions.
He said: “This was a cruel and nasty horrible incident. However it started it went horribly, horribly wrong. They are here today to face the consequences.”
RSPCA Cymru has described the incident as “horrifying” and expressed concern at the age of those responsible.
“This poor chicken was subject to the most horrendous treatment – taken, beaten, stabbed and set alight,” said RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben.
“I shudder to think what the poor animal went through.
“The offences were horrifying, and it is always deeply worrying when young people commit such crimes. They will now be subject to our Breaking the Chain programme – which highlights the impact acts like this have on animals and their welfare standards.
“RSPCA Cymru wants to inspire a future generation of animal ambassadors – who share our compassion and empathy for our fellow living creatures. Hopefully, this prosecution sets a clear statement that behaviours like this are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
David Allen, head of education at RSPCA , said: “Clearly, these were disgusting offences and it is particularly worrying that young people are committing such acts. Fortunately, we know most young people will be horrified by what happened in Milford Haven.
“Our new Generation Kind scheme brings together a series of initiatives – including those in the classroom, support for teachers, programmes to support vulnerable looked-after and disadvantaged young people, and those targeted at youth offenders.
“It is hoped that Generation Kind will help create a generation of individuals who are kind, compassionate and caring towards animals.”
The youths pleaded guilty to an Animal Welfare Act offence, namely causing the chicken to suffer unnecessarily.
Sentencing: 12-month referral order, which includes the RSPCA intervention initiative mentioned above. The older youth was ordered to pay £380 in compensation, costs and charges and the younger one was ordered to pay courts and charges totalling £400. They were both banned from keeping any animal for a period of 12 months.