#TheList Kieran John Jerome Mitchell, born 27/05/1995, of Keswick Crescent, Plymouth PL6 – punched and slapped his pet dog 36 times causing him to suffer wounds to his head and ears
Convicted cannabis dealer Mitchell, formerly of Penrose Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth, was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the bull terrier Hugo in November 2017. He was convicted in his absence back in July 2018 and a warrant issued for his arrest the following month.
Mitchell surrendered to custody in March 2020. He was released on bail but failed to turn up at the next hearing. Magistrates have now issued a further arrest warrant.
The RSPCA, which brought the case, said concerns were raised about the welfare of Hugo, after they were sent an anonymous audio recording of him being beaten and taunted by Mitchell.
RSPCA prosecutor Lindi Meyer told the court it was a “nasty sustained attack” with a total of 36 hits, punches or slaps heard on the recording.
As Mitchell attacked the dog he can be overheard goading him, asking him: “Are you crying now? Whimpering?”
The RSPCA seized Hugo from Mitchell and took him to a vet for examination. The vet found three lesions on his face, one of which was near an eye. The vet said that the beating would have been a traumatic experience for Hugo, causing him to feel “terror, fear, pain and anxiety”.
Mitchell admitted in his interview that he smacked Hugo and would rub his nose in it if he fouled on the floor.
The presiding magistrate told Mitchell: “You acted in anger against an innocent animal.”
Sentencing: 24 weeks in prison. £115 victim surcharge. Banned from owning animals for ten years.
#TheList Nick Holley, born 23/07/1968, of Tramside Farm, Nancekuke, Portreath, near Redruth TR16 5UF – banned from keeping farm animals after sheep were found starved and mutilated at his smallholding
Holley pleaded guilty to the following charges:
• Failing to provide adequate food to his flock of sheep
• Allowing sheep to have access to collapsed fencing and broken machinery that could have injured them
• Mutilating a sheep by docking its tail so short that the tail did not cover its vulva
• Failing to shear or provide shade to sheep in August 2019
• On 10 September 2019 caused unnecessary suffering to a sheep by failing to notice it was trapped or to release it from being trapped
Kevin Hill, prosecuting, told the court that Holley had gone on holiday and left a friend caring for 50 sheep at the smallholding, despite the friend having no previous experience of sheep husbandry.
Many of the sheep were emaciated yet had no supplementary feed, and the sheep had access to scrap and collapsed fencing. On a revisit, council officers found a sheep trapped in a fence; it had been trapped for at least 24 hours and once released was hungry and thirsty.
In January 2020 the sheep were not being fed hay and had strayed onto neighbouring land and roadside verges to forage. Holley had been cautioned for similar offences in 2018.
The magistrates gave credit for the early guilty plea and genuine remorse.
Sentencing: two-year conditional discharge; £5,000 costs. Banned from keeping farm animals for five years.
#TheList Ian Ware, born 13/05/1946 , and Ann Ware, born c. 1960, both of Holly Road, Tiverton EX16 6HZ – failed to take their badly injured cat to the vet
The RSPCA visited the home of Ian and Ann Ware in September 2019 after receiving a call from a concerned member of the public.
The grey and white cat, known as Snowball, was rushed to a vet by RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Coggins where he had to be put to sleep because of the severity of his condition.
Inspector Coggins said: “The pinna was damaged, leaving the cartilage of the ear canal exposed.
“Around the ear canal there was a deep deficit in the skin and underlying muscle to the extent that the bone of the skull could be seen rostral to the ear canal.
“The diagnosis from the vet was of a chronic severe deep infection of the ear canal and surrounding tissues. The exact cause could not be ascertained on clinical examination but it may have resulted from a bite to the area from another cat or rodent.
“As a result of this infection, the vet found Snowball to be suffering severe pain and that the infection had been present for some time based on the severity and extent of tissue destruction including damage to the cartilage of the ear canal.”
The defendants admitted causing unnecessary suffering to Snowball by failing to provide prompt or effective professional veterinary care and attention for the severe and chronic infected wound of the left ear canal and surrounding tissue.
Sentencing: four-week curfew order; £110 each in court costs. Banned from keeping animals for three years.
#TheList Michael Edward Levy, born 08/05/1988, formerly of 22 The Drive, West End, Southampton SO30 3AN, but gave his address in court as 35 Metherell Avenue, Brixham, Devon TQ5 9QB – left horses in a field without clean water and shelter
The father-of-five was also found guilty of transporting a pony in a way that was likely to cause injury.
The court heard that RSPCA inspectors were called by the police after Levy allowed his ponies to fly-graze on land at Botley Road, West End, Southampton.
The land, which was littered with several hazards, did not have clean water, shade or shelter.
The fencing was also deemed inappropriate fencing for horses, which resulted in one horse getting trapped and losing a shoe.
RSPCA Inspector Tina Ward described the scene.
“A metal gate between two paddocks was hanging off its hinges,” said Inspector Ward. “The paddock also had a hidden dangerous hazard; a cesspit covered by grass and rubble.
“There was rusting metal and car parts as well as partly buried plastic blue piping. All of these had the potential to cause serious harm and injury.”
Police body-camera footage recorded a Shetland pony being unloaded by Levy from a white van.
Inspector Ward said the pony “had been travelling with a rope headcollar on that was loose. There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body, which is particularly important.”
She said: “If the pony was to lose its balance when the vehicle went round a corner or stopped suddenly, he could have injured himself significantly.”
Inspector Ward added where the pony had been standing was a number of items including a tin of paint and metal ladders.
“These also had the potential to cause the pony serious injury had he had fallen over. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress,” she said.
Inspector Ward concluded: “There were no windows giving light or ventilation, no partition to support the pony’s body. The method of transporting the pony was highly dangerous and would have also caused significant distress.”
Sentencing: Levy was ordered to pay a total of £1,233. He was banned from keeping equines for six months.
#TheList equine sanctuary owner Ann Michelle Sim, born 26/08/1984, of Shearford Close, Barnstaple EX31 1AG – neglected and starved multiple horses in her care
Mother-of-three Ann Sim, who ran North Devon Equine Rescue in Rumsam, near Barnstaple, was given a 10-week suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping horses for 10 years after admitting three cruelty charges.
The RSPCA visited Sim’s so-called sanctuary and found horses so thin their spines and ribs could be seen through the skin.
Conditions were described as ‘chaotic’ with animals living in foul conditions among rubbish and with sparse and inadequate bedding.
Ponies and horses had overgrown feet and one had to have his eye removed because an infection had not been treated by a vet.
The court heard Sim had set up the centre with the best of intentions five years earlier but had struggled to cope when her personal life fell apart.
Prosecutor Kevin Withy said Sim had been on the radar of the RSPCA for some time before the offences were committed between June and September 2019.
In one of the foul stables inspectors discovered a mare and foal whose ribs and spine were visible due to lack of food. Conditions were filthy with little clean bedding and only ‘a limited amount of water’.
The animals had been suffering for a number of months and there was no control of parasites.
The chestnut mare, Bumble, also had severely overgrown feet and Sim had not called a vet. A Welsh gelding called Tiggy had an infected eye that needed to be removed and a pony, Punchy, was emaciated, anaemic and had overgrown feet.
Defence barrister Herc Ashworth said the 35-year-old set up the rescue centre to “help abandoned horses back to health” and had “no intention of causing suffering”.
“I accept it was not a deliberate act on your behalf,” the judge added.
All the animals have since been rehomed.
Sentencing: 10-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. Ordered to pay £322 costs. Banned from keeping equines for 10 years.
Lindi Meyer, prosecuting, said the defendant lived with Rocco and his partner Hilson. Both accepted responsibility for the pet.
The RSPCA and police went to the house on September 2, 2019, after reports of an injured dog. Initially the pair did not answer but Hilson let them in just as police were about to force entry.
The dog had obvious leg and head injuries, said the prosecutor.
Hilson said Rocco had hurt his leg trying to get over a gate almost a month before. She confirmed he had not seen a vet.
“There was a strong smell of ammonia and faeces on the floor,” added Ms Meyer.
A police officer said the injured state of the dog was ‘heartbreaking’ and he had never seen such a badly injured animal before.
Rocco had multiple cuts, dislocated femur, swelling, two large head wounds that were so severe vets were unable to examine his right eye, a fractured tooth, cheek, three fractured ribs, and a fracture to the right hock which was several weeks old and so severe the leg had to be amputated.
There were stains on the carpets which Hilson said Rocco had left after he injured his head trying to escape from his cage.
Dolling said the injury to Rocco’s leg happened about one and a half months before when he tried to jump over a door. Both denied mistreating him and Dolling said he didn’t take him for treatment because he thought the vet might think he had beaten him. He couldn’t explain the fracture to the dog’s eye and denied beating him. He said he thought the animal would die without vet attention.
Texts between the two revealed more of what really happened to the dog.
Hilson demanded to know what had happened to Rocco’s face. Dolling replied: “I just went mad on him earlier. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I’m f****d.”
Hilson said the dog was ‘only a baby’ and hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment.
Dolling answered: “You know what I get. I get what you’re saying. I’m sorry, I’m a nasty c**t.”
Hilson said there was a history of domestic violence in the relationship. Dolling now accepted responsibility for what he had done.
Nobody was present at the time Dolling injured the dog and the court was not told what triggered his violence. A vet found the injuries had been sustained by blunt force trauma on at least two occasions. They would have caused considerable pain for Rocco for at least six weeks. The skull fracture was caused by being struck with a ‘heavy linear object’ not consistent with Dolling’s explanation about the door. Injuries to the ribs were caused by kicks, stamps, or throwing against an object, said the vet.
Ms Meyer said Dolling’s actions had been ‘deliberate, gratuitous and caused suffering and pain on a number of occasions’. There had been prolonged neglect over months and no vet treatment despite both being aware of the injuries.
The court was played a video of Rocco in the care of the RSPCA, running and chasing a ball. “He’s doing really well,” after learning to walk again, said the prosecutor.
Hilson has yet to sign him over to the RSPCA’s care and has stated she wants him back.
Ben Darby, defending, said Dolling accepted full responsibility for the injuries and was ‘tearful’ and sorry for what he had done. He wanted help for his anger management issues and was motivated to change.
“These are pretty horrendous offences,” said Mr Darby. But he said Dolling had held his hands up and admitted his crime, even though nobody saw him cause the injuries and for that he should be given credit.
Hilson, who did not cause injuries to Rocco, admits a lesser charge under the Animal Welfare Act. She will be sentenced at a later date.
Sentencing: suspended four-month jail sentence. He was told to do up to 10 days anger management with probation and 60 hours of unpaid work. He was banned from keeping all animals for life but can appeal after just five years.
Natasha Rose Hilson, born 10/08/1994, also of 24A Briseham Road, Brixham, Torbay, Devon TQ5 9NS, has been sentenced for failing to seek veterinary care for Rocco while he was suffering from his injuries.
She must carry out 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and 240 hours’ unpaid work.
She was also disqualified from owning any animal for 15 years, with no application to lift this for five years, and must pay £200 costs.
#TheList greyhound breeder/trainer Clive Donald Elliott, born 19/11/1979, of 35 Limes Avenue, Swindon SN2 1QQ – convicted of multiple counts of cruelty towards dogs in his care
Clive Elliott binged on drink and drugs while his dogs starved in kennels at the home he now shares with his mother. When police and an RSPCA officer visited the property they found one dog stuffed in a freezer, two others dead on the floor and other animals starved.
The greyhound trainer and breeder, who had inherited a number of dogs from his late father, left the animals unfed for around four days.
But a vet who examined the stricken animals after they were rescued from their kennel suggested the dogs had been subject to weeks or possibly months of neglect.
RSPCA prosecutor Matthew Knight said officers had found eight dogs. Three were dead, including one that had been put into a bin liner and stuffed into a chest freezer.
“There was no dog food whatsoever in the property,” the solicitor said.
The five other dogs were in a poor condition. Their nails were overgrown, some had abscesses and scurvy.
One of the animals had a severe mouth ulcer, which Elliott later admitted knowing about. The dog initially wolfed down food but died a week later after his condition deteriorated.
Autopsies were carried out on the dead dogs. The bone marrow of one was a glutinous liquid – the result of poor nutrition. The vet said it would have taken weeks or possibly months to reach that stage.
As an example of how poorly nourished the greyhounds were, Mr Knight said one dog had increased in weight by a third in just one month after it was taken from the house. He said: “The vet puts this purely down to providing the proper food.”
Interviewed by the authorities, Elliott said matters had deteriorated after the breakdown of a relationship. He had turned to drink and drugs and did not ask for help as he was “too proud”.
He told the RSPCA his mother, who has dementia, would have fed them had there been any dog food. He added: “There wasn’t any food for my mum that’s how low I was.”
The dogs Elliott was accused of having neglected were racing as recently as January 2019. Racing cards suggest Gemstone Bobbie, who added a third to his body weight after being rescued, was at the Swindon track twice that month. “C D Elliott” was the trainer
Elliott’s lawyer Terry McCarthy of Jeary & Lewis Solicitors said his client had inherited dogs after the death of his father in 2014.
He had owned his own printing business and was looking after the dogs on the side. He changed jobs, working night shifts and caring for the animals during the day.
He found he was not coping well and, when his relationship broke down, matters spiralled.
“Things went wrong there and Mr Elliott was affected by the breakdown,” Mr McCarthy said.
“It seems some dogs were removed from him by someone his ex-partner met and the problems with the breakdown and the lack of income got in top of him.
“There is reference to the back problem you have heard about for which he has been prescribed medication.”
Elliott had been abusing prescription medication on top of that. “It’s my feeling that Mr Elliott was suffering at the time from severe depression. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t go and see a doctor and there is no medical evidence to confirm it.
“It’s quite obvious that as a result of that depression he wasn’t coping with anything.
“You’ve read in the report he couldn’t bring himself to look after his mother properly – as well as his dogs.
“Some of the dogs I think you’ve heard about were owned by another person. That person did not provide food for them either.
“Mr Elliott had no money.”
Chairman of the bench Jane Durrant said Elliott had shown no evidence of remorse.
“The pictures we have been shown are extremely distressing and the number of dogs and the level of suffering they endured is really quite appalling,” she said.
“The distress caused to these dogs was just quite unbelievable.”
Elliott did not appear to react as the sentence was read out.
Sentencing: 20 weeks’ imprisonment. Ordered to pay a total of £872 costs and charges. Banned from owning dogs for life.
#TheList Debbie Clara Wills, born c. 1990 of Lower Cranesmoor, Bovington, Wareham BH20 6LR – starved her dog to death and left his emaciated body in a garden shed
Six-year-old black and white springer spaniel, Finn, was matted and had overgrown nails and large open sores when his body was found. The dog weighed 8.8kg at the time of his death – the weight he should have been at three months old.
Wills also kept a second springer spaniel in a terrible condition. That dog, a three-year-old known as Aero, weighed just 6.4kg, and was so thin he was unable to lift his head when RSPCA inspectors visited Wills’ home.
A court heard the dogs had been kept in a cage, with food just beyond their reach. Wills walked past their cage, which was in the hallway of her home, but ignored their suffering.
Officials were alerted by a member of the public concerned for the welfare of Wills’ pets.
RSPCA Inspector Graham Hammond visited her home where he found Aero in a collapsed state. The dog’s skull, shoulder bones, spine and leg bones were visible through his fur. He also had very matted ears, open sores, and curled, overgrown nails.
Insp Hammond then found the body of Finn stored in a garden shed. A post-mortem found the dog had starved to death.
Aero was rushed to a vet who provided emergency treatment. Miraculously he recovered and has since been rehomed.
Insp Hammond called the case “heartbreaking”.
“The dogs were in emaciated condition on the hard cage floor. Their open sores, long nails and matted wet ears would have definitely caused both Aero and Finn to suffer greatly,” he said.
“This case is heartbreaking. Debbie Wills ignored the needs and suffering of Aero and Finn.
“Finn died in front of Aero. Aero collapsed soon after Finn, he was so weak he was within hours of death.
“There was food within inches of them, just outside their cage, but sadly too far away.
“During these last days of their lives, Debbie Wills could see that they were losing weight and were dangerously thin but did nothing about it.
“She walked past their cage in her hallway, containing two starving dogs, never taking the opportunity to feed them adequately, take them to a vet or even asking someone for help.”
Wills, who runs a Facebook page called the Glossy Girls Boutique (at time of writing, deactivated), claimed she was struggling to cope because of having a poorly child.
She said her failures were neglectful, rather than intentionally malicious.
Sentencing: six months in prison, suspended for two years. 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement. Ordered to pay £512. Banned from keeping animals for life with the right of appeal after 10 years.