Tag Archives: Stoke-on-Trent

Biddulph, Staffordshire: Andrew Beech

#TheList Andrew William Beech, born 31/05/1986 of 64a Kingsfield Road, Biddulph ST8 6DR – subjected his pet dog to repeated violent attacks over several months, finally killing her

Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire, and victim Millie - a grey Staffordshire bull terrier
Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire, and victim Millie – a grey Staffordshire bull terrier

Neighbours of Andrew Beech had witnessed him screaming and swearing at his blue Staffordshire bull terrier, Millie, many times in the months leading up to her violent death on 19 August 2019.

Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire,
Beech, who also pleaded guilty to assaulting an ex-partner, is banned from keeping animals indefinitely following his brutal killing of a defenceless dog

One witness described seeing Beech throw Millie’s bed into the communal yard and yelling at her aggressively. He then kicked her hard, causing her to cry out. The witness tried to confront him but Beech disappeared inside his flat before she could do so.

Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire,

On the evening of Millie’s death horrified neighbours heard Beech yelling “you shit all over the flat” followed by sounds of a dog in severe distress, crying and screaming.

On August 21, Beech wrote the following on Facebook: “my Millie moo died, completely shocked, RIP”.

Rumours emerged on social media that Beech had killed Millie and one local animal lover, Nicola, decided to go to his house to confront him. Beech told Nicola that Millie had died from natural causes and said he had buried her body in local woods. However, Nicola had noticed bloodstains on the walls of his hallway and was unconvinced by his lies. She went through his bins and was horrified to discover remnants of a blood-soaked dog bed.

Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire,

Police were called but were reluctant to investigate so Nicola, determined to get justice for Millie, decided to take matters into her own hands.

She posted an appeal for information on Facebook and was soon contacted by someone who said they would show her where Beech had buried Millie’s body – actually in a small plot in the car park to the rear of his flat.

Nicola took a shovel and found Millie’s battered body in a cardboard box. She was wrapped in what remained of her dog bed.

The box contained a message that said “Millie, I’m going to miss you every day” with dog biscuits, and a deflated ball.

Nicola contacted the RSPCA who collected Millie’s remains and took her to a vet for examination. There it was discovered that she had died from a blunt trauma. She had several other traumatic injuries including a punctured liver and lung, a broken hip and internal bleeding. Almost every rib was broken.

Some injuries were older and had been inflicted on her months earlier, proving that this attack had not been a one-off.

The RSPCA prosecuted Beech but he denied the charges and continued to scream about his innocence to his friends and family and publicly on Facebook.

Faced with overwhelming evidence against him, however, Beech eventually pleaded guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal as well as harassing an ex-partner.

The court heard Beechhad lost his job at a builders’ merchant following the social media backlash in the wake of Millie’s death.

Dog killer Andy Beech from Biddulph, Staffordshire,

Beech’s lawyer, Peter Howland of Turnocks Defence Solicitors, told the court that his client became frustrated with Millie following a change in his working hours causing him to be away most of the day and that “he kicked her because of her behaviour”.

Speaking about the fatal attack Howland said that his client “kicked the dog a number of times and, as a result of that, it died within a matter of minutes. He was shocked and didn’t know what to do.”

Howland claimed that Beech had been in the Army and had served in Basra “which has had an effect on his mental health.”

This cut little ice with the judge who told Beech: “You could not cope with owning the dog but you made excuses – it would not have taken a genius to give the dog to the RSPCA.

“Instead you subjected the dog to cruelty on a regular basis. This was not a one-off – and then you kicked this dog to death.”

Sentencing: jailed for 24 weeks and banned indefinitely from keeping animals.

Stoke Sentinel

Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire: Daniel Bowd

#TheList Daniel Mark Bowd, born 12/10/1991, of Old Stores Cottage, School Lane, Lower Leigh, Stoke On Trent ST10 4SS – kept starving dogs, cows and pigs in atrocious conditions on a smallholding

Animal abuser Daniel Mark Bowd of Lower Leigh, Stoke on Trent

Daniel Bowd. former managing director of recently failed waste management company DM Bowd Environmental Services Ltd, kept dogs, pigs and cattle on a smallholding on Raddle Lane, Leigh, near Uttoxeter, but abandoned the animals to starve.

Staffordshire County Council raided the smallholding in January 2019 following a tip-off.

Inspectors found:

  • Five dogs in pens covered in faeces and urine
  • Pigs and cattle with no food or water
  • Pig skulls and smaller animal skulls in a field
  • A blood-covered pig which had been eating a dead pig

Prosecutor Khalid Mahmood told North Staffordshire Justice Centre: “A small pig had a blood-covered face as it had been eating the dead pig that was inside the pen. The officers then went looking in the pen and found skulls of dead pigs.

“The officers also saw cattle with no food or water and there was no dry lying area for them. Similarly, there was no dry lying area for any other animals.”

RSPCA officers inspected the dogs. They had wood in their rectum, their abdomens and guts felt empty, and they had scratches and damaged ears as if they had been fighting.

Bowd told the probation service that he was £60,000 in debt. He was working 14 hours every day just to ‘keep his head above water’ on a self-employed basis.

Lucy Taylor-Grimes, mitigating, said: “He just couldn’t keep up with the volume of food that the animals needed.”

Bowd admitted a catalogue of animal welfare offences against pigs and dogs. He also admitted failing to dispose of animal bones correctly, failing to maintain a register of the cattle on his holding, and not maintaining a proper veterinary medicine record for his livestock.

Sentencing: 18-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months; ordered to pay £1,615 in court costs. Lifetime ban on keeping pigs, cattle and dogs with the possibility of review after five years.

StokeonTrentLive

Litherland, Liverpool: Daniel O’Sullivan

#TheList Daniel O’Sullivan, born c. 1990, of Bowland Drive, Liverpool L21: stabbed a police dog twice in head and attacked officers while high on monkey dust

Daniel O'Sullivan from Liverpool was prosecuted under Finn's Law for his attack on PD Audi
Daniel O’Sullivan was prosecuted under Finn’s Law for his attack on PD Audi

Daniel O’Sullivan was jailed for 21 months after he admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, five counts of assault and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

Police were called to deal with the thug following reports of a man wielding a knife and broken bottle in a street in Hanley, near Stoke, on July 1, 2019.

When O’Sullivan refused to drop the weapons a police dog named Audi was sent into the incident.

O’Sullivan stabbed PD Audi twice in the head before throwing a bottle at an officer and kicking him in the face. He spat at four other officers.

Following his arrest O’Sullivan was taken to hospital for assessment and was aggressive towards medical staff.

PD Audi survived the knife attack and has since returned to duty.
PD Audi survived the knife attack and has since returned to duty.

Audi needed emergency treatment but survived the attack and has since returned to duty.

The prosecution for the attack against Audi is the first under the new Animal Welfare (Emergency Services) Act.

Known as Finn’s Law, it now recognises police dogs as public servants and not simply police property. The maximum sentence is currently six months.

Detective Inspector Stephen Ward, from Staffordshire Police, said: “O’Sullivan presented a significant danger to anyone who was nearby and we cannot allow the public to be put at risk.

“He assaulted five officers, spitting at four of them, which is a degrading experience for the officers concerned and can present a health risk.

“O’Sullivan was out to seriously hurt PD Audi and it was lucky that he wasn’t blinded or killed as a result of his injuries.

“Aside from the sheer cruelty of his actions, it takes a great deal of time, energy and expense to train a police dog and an experience like that could have ended his career. Fortunately, Audi has recovered well and is back at work.”

Sentencing: jailed for 21 months of which three months was for injuring a police dog.

Liverpool Echo

Scholar Green, Stoke-on-Trent: Esther Titterton

#TheList fraudulent puppy dealer Esther Rachel Titterton, born 15/03/1993, formerly of Yew Tree Farm, Wheatlow Brooks, Milwich, Stafford, and more recently of Drumber Lane, Scholar Green, Stoke on Trent ST7 3LP

Callous Esther Titterton of Milwich, Staffordshire duped customers into buying puppies that went on to develop serious health problems
Callous Esther Titterton of Milwich, Staffordshire duped customers into buying puppies that soon developed serious health problems.

Esther Titterton was jailed for 18 months after admitting illegally breeding and selling puppies using fake Kennel Club paperwork.

Titterton was also charged with the breeding of dogs without a licence, sales of puppies without a pet shop licence and consumer protection offences.

Up to 39 puppies, many with health problems, were seized from Titterton’s home.

An advert placed on Pets4Homes by dishonest puppy dealer Esther Titterton
Titterton used online classified websites to advertise puppies for sale. This is one of her ads.

Trading Standards officers also found false vaccination certificates, which along with the Kennel Club papers were used to dupe customers.

Callous Esther Titterton of Milwich, Staffordshire duped customers into buying puppies that went on to develop serious health problems
Titterton admitted 13 charges of fraud and was jailed for 18 months. All the puppies have since been re-homed.

Titterton pleaded guilty to 11 charges of dishonestly making false representation to make gain for herself and two others relating to an item used in the committing of fraud and her business being used to commit fraud.

A Facebook post from a customer of Esther Titterton
A Facebook post by someone unlucky enough to be duped by dishonest puppy dealer Esther Titterton. In this case the little puppy, Bailey, did not survive. According to this post, Titterton used an alias (typical puppy dealer behaviour) and also had an accomplice.

Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team said it worked with the Animal, Plant and Health Agency, police and the RSPCA to investigate Titterton after a complaint about her business activities in June 2017.

Callous Esther Titterton of Milwich, Staffordshire duped customers into buying puppies that went on to develop serious health problems
Esther Rachel Titterton

Titterton had been operating from her home, a farm in Milwich, and checks revealed it was not licensed to sell pets or breed dogs. The owner of the farm was not involved with the investigation.

Most of the puppies were cockapoos and health problems with dogs from so-called puppy farms is a common occurrence, trading standards said.

Sentencing:
Jailed for 18 months.

BBC News

Abbey Hulton, Stoke-on-Trent: Alex Johnson

#TheList backyard breeder Alex Johnson, born c. 1989, of Elmsmere Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST2 8EFT – banned from keeping dogs after police found videos of him allowing canines to jump up and bite padded arm sleeves.

Backyard breeder Alex Johnson from Stoke-on-Trent has been banned from keeping dogs for five years

Police officers launched their investigation when a dog that Alex Johnson was looking after bit a woman’s arm, leaving her with puncture wounds.

It led them to videos of the defendant allowing a dog to scale a fence in pursuit of a toy and another of a dog jumping up and biting an arm sleeve as a whip was cracked to the floor.

Backyard breeder Alex Johnson from Stoke-on-Trent has been banned from keeping dogs for five years

But Johnson – who also works as a dog photographer and bare-knuckle fighter – says the footage was linked to his involvement in organised dog sports.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard the woman was bitten by a Bully XL called Loyal at 2.30 pm on June 16, 2018.

Prosecutor Tom Griffiths said: “The defendant told it to sit and when she went past, it bit her on the arm.”

Staffordshire Police applied for Johnson to be hit with a five-year dog ban – and backed up their application with three videos featuring Johnson and dogs.

Backyard breeder Alex Johnson from Stoke-on-Trent has been banned from keeping dogs for five years

One of them featured a Dutch Herder which the defendant said had been with the Slovakian army. Footage showed Johnson walking up and down with the dog as it displayed its ability to understand commands. It was also seen to run towards a man with a padded sleeve which the animal bit onto while a whip was being cracked.

Another video showed the defendant wearing an arm sleeve which his own dog jumped up to bite. Another clip showed Johnson’s dog on a treadmill.

Mr Griffiths said two of the videos showed the animals being antagonised.

Commenting on the clip of Johnson’s own dog, he added: “He wants a reaction and he’s trained it to be aggressive. He is not a fit and proper person to have dogs.”

The court heard Johnson has also bought into a company specialising in canine supplements. He says the footage of the Dutch Herder was put together because he was selling the dog and one buyer had requested to see more of the animal’s training.

He said: “The dog was as friendly as anything and was not a protection dog. All I did was keep up her training. She was friendly and everyone on the estate loved playing with her.”

Referring to the videos of his own dog, Johnson said: “I have had no issues with her. It’s ridiculous to say she’s trained to fight, anybody that knows anything about that breed knows they are not for fighting, she is a Pocket Bully. I breed small versions of Bullys.

“The whip crack is so they are not scared. When I go to seminars I always take her with me. All our puppies are used to different noises so when they go to new homes we don’t get complaints.

“My training is basic and the bite side of things I go to seminars. The training I do is obedience – sit, stay and heel. I go to organised events.”

Johnson admitted being in charge of a dog dangerously out of control on Priory Road, Abbey Hulton, on June 16. But a trial was held regarding the possible disqualification.

District Judge Timothy Boswell said: “The footage shows the dogs behaving in ways that are dangerous and the way you are encouraging them to behave potentially makes them dangerous, by encouraging them to jump up and bite.

“You and other men are having to wear arm sleeves – people don’t normally walk up and down the street with an arm sleeve in case a dog bites them.

“The dogs on the footage are behaving in dangerous ways and it is appropriate to disqualify you from having custody of a dog for five years.”

Sentencing: 40 hours of unpaid work; £85 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping dogs for five years.

Stoke Sentinel

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On 2 November 2019 it was reported that Johnson had lost his appeal to have his five-year ban overturned.

Stoke-on-Trent: Jordan Booth

#TheList Jordan Booth, born c. 1991, of Pemberton Drive, Meir Heath, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 7JU – allowed his horse to become so underweight he had to be put to sleep

Horse abuser Jordan Booth from Stoke-on-Trent and his victim Quahadi, who had to be put to sleep
Ab RSPCA inspect described Jordan Booth’s gelding, Quahadi, as the thinnest horse she had ever seen

Jordan Booth’s bay thoroughbred-type horse, named Quahadi, was described by RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Melvin as the thinnest she had ever seen. Sadly, despite vets’ efforts to save him the gelding had to be put down to end his suffering.

Booth pleaded guilty to three charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These were that he failed to investigate the gelding’s weight issues between October and November 2018 and failed to provide adequate hoof care between July 2018 and November 2018. The third charge related to failing to provide adequate veterinary care for a skin problem between 13 November and 18 November 2018.

RSPCA Inspector Melvin attended a field in Coplow Avenue, Tean, in November 2018 after the charity received a call from a concerned member of the public.

Inspector Melvin immediately summoned a vet to assess Quahadi’s condition. The vet found the horse to be emaciated and suffering with an untreated skin condition on his legs. He had also not been provided with adequate hoof care for several months.

Police took possession of Quahadi and he was placed in the RSPCA’s care. Sadly, despite “great efforts” to save him, he collapsed the following day and the vets made the decision to put him down to “end his suffering”.

“I was so sad that Quahadi didn’t pull through, he was a very affectionate and sweet horse,” said Inspector Melvin.

“The only consolation is that he was warm and comfortable in a stable getting plenty of care during his last night, so at least I know he received some love and TLC before he sadly died.”

In mitigation the court heard Booth struggled with the gelding’s weight.

A second pony belonging to Booth was removed from the field by police and was signed into the charity’s care.

Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence suspended for two years; 240 hours of unpaid work and 15 rehabilitation days. Total of £515 costs and charges. Banned from keeping horses for five years.

Stoke Sentinel

Stoke-on-Trent: Paul Simpson

#TheList Paul Simpson, born 16/05/1958, of Maple Avenue, Stoke-on-Trent ST7 1JW – left two horses to starve in a field, one of whom later had to be put down.

Paul Simpson of Maple Avenue, Stoke, left his horses to starve in a field
Paul Simpson’s horses were found starving, covered in lice, and with no food or water.

Simpson pleaded guilty to three charges under the Animal Welfare Act.

The RSPCA was contacted by a member of the public who had seen a horse lying down in a field off Mere Lake Road, Talke Pits, Stoke-on-Trent. A bay mare, Polly, and a grey mare, Biscuit were found “skinny and lame, covered in lice and with no food or water”.

Between 1 November and 28 November 2017 Simpson caused unnecessary suffering by failing to investigate the cause of the poor bodily condition and weight loss of Polly and Biscuit.

Paul Simpson of Maple Avenue, Stoke, left his horses to starve in a field

Before 28 November 2017 Simpson caused unnecessary suffering by housing a lame horse, Polly, on wet muddy ground,

Between 8 August 2017 and 28 November 2017 Simpson failed to provide veterinary care for Biscuit’s lameness.

RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin, who investigated, said: “Both horses had rugs on them but I could still see every bone sticking out. I attended with World Horse Welfare, a vet and the police and we were all immediately concerned. Both horses had a really depressed demeanour and were just standing there not moving.

“The vet had a look at them and made the decision that they were suffering and needed immediate veterinary attention. They both had low body scores, one was given a body score of 0.5 out of five and the other was given a score of one.

“Polly, also had a swollen knee from an untreated injury, and Biscuit had a massive bone abscess on one of her front hooves which would have been incredibly painful for her and was the reason why she was so lame.”

Biscuit was found to have “pus coming out of every hoof” and was “so poorly” the vet made the decision to put her down. Polly was taken into the care of World Horse Welfare.

Sentencing:10-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months; two-week curfew; ordered to pay £250 costs and £115 victim surcharge. Banned from keeping horses for five years

Horse and Hound

Stafford, Staffordshire: David Bromley

#TheList David P Bromley, born 13/02/1989, currently of Tixall Road, Stafford ST16 – kept two  starving dogs in a cage with no food and water

Dog abuser David Bromley from Stafford, UK

Crossbreed Caesar and Staffy Buster were so thin that all of their rib bones were sticking out and they were also covered in fleas. Both dogs also had self-trauma from scratching themselves because of the fleas.

The two dogs abused by David Bromley from Stafford, UK

Their owner, David P Bromley, previously of Eaton Street, Northwood, Stoke-on-Trent ST1, pleaded guilty to four Animal Welfare Act offences.

David Bromley from Stafford was banned from keeping animals after leaving two starving dogs in a cage with no food and water

The court heard the RSPCA became involved after receiving a call from a worried member of the public who had seen how thin the dogs were.

When an inspector arrived at the property in Eaton Street, Northwood, both dogs were in a small cage together with no food or water.

RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “I was really shocked at the state of the poor dogs. When I saw them in the cage they didn’t react at all, they were so depressed – there was no barking, nothing.

“They spent hours at a time in this cage, with no bedding, no food and no water.

“When the vet looked at them, they were also found to be dehydrated and it had been at least 24 hours since they’d had any water.

“They were fed in the vets and they ate the food ravenously. As they were so weak they had to be admitted at the vets for a few days for observations.”

Bromley told Inspector Melvin that he could not afford to feed the dogs and that he would bring back scraps of meat from the takeaway where he worked at the time, which he would feed them.

He also said that he felt remorse.

Caesar and Buster have since made a good recovery and have now been rehomed.

Sentencing:
Total of £450 fines, costs and charges. Ten-year ban on keeping animals. 

Stoke-on-Trent Live

Meir, Stoke-on-Trent: Natalie Keenan and David Knight

#TheList Natalie Keenan, born c. 1989, and David Knight, born c. 1977, both of Sandon Old Road, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 – kept 23 pets – including a barn owl, a fox and a raccoon dog – inside a smelly and flea-ridden house of horrors

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

David Knight pleaded guilty to five charges related to animal cruelty, while Natalie Keenan admitted four offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

The pair’s mini-zoo was discovered by chance when a utility company official went round to the Meir home to execute a warrant as they hadn’t paid their gas bill.

He alerted the RSPCA, who were confronted by the stench of neglect, with piles of dog poo in the kitchen, rotting chickens in a snake tank and animals covered in fleas.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors

Other creatures – from pets to exotics to wild animals – were being kept in tiny filthy cages, with barely enough room to move and without ready access to water.

A raccoon dog kept in a foul cage by Natalie Keenan and David Knight from Meir, Stoke

One terrier-type dog, called Lexi, was in such a poor condition that she had to be put to sleep.

Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said Lexi was experiencing ‘significant suffering’. She was virtually blind, emaciated with protruding bones, had little fur and an infected tumour that was hidden underneath a ‘foul-smelling mess’.

The dog was found curled up on a pile of dirty nappies and had to be carried out of the house as she couldn’t walk.

The couple also had:

  • another dog, Mocha the French bulldog
  • a cat called Gizzy, who both had skin and flea problems;
  • a barn owl caged up in a bedroom
  • a fox living in a cage in another room;
  • a racoon dog
  • a rat
  • a bearded dragon
  • five snakes
  • eight degus;
  • and an African grey parrot called Charlie.

David Knight and Natalie Keenan of Meir, Stoke kept 23 pets - including owl, fox and raccoon dog - inside 'smelly and flea-ridden' house of horrors
Lexi was in such poor condition she had to be put to sleep

RSPCA Inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “When I arrived at the property the couple wouldn’t let me inside so I waited outside for over two hours until police arrived.

“During that time the family carried bin bag after bin bag of rubbish out of the house.

“When I finally went inside it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Even though they’d been clearing out for two hours it was still absolutely filthy and the animals were being kept in horrifying conditions.

“There was cage after cage and animal after animal. The rooms were strewn with rubbish, all of the animals’ accommodation was filthy and their welfare needs were clearly not being met.

“It was disgusting and it was mass-scale neglect.”

The other animals remain in RSPCA care and can now be rehomed or moved to suitable keepers.

“Many of these animals simply shouldn’t be kept as pets let alone kept like this,” Inspector Melvin added.

“To see these poor animals living in such squalor was heartbreaking. I’m just glad they can all now have a second chance at find loving new homes where their needs will be properly catered to.”

Sentencing: 12-month community order including a 30-hour rehabilitation requirement. Total of £235 each in costs and charges.  Both were disqualified from keeping animals for three years.

Stoke Sentinel
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Stoke-on-Trent: Kayleigh Weston

#TheList junkie Kayleigh Weston, born 1987, of Lucerne Road, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 7FG – left family rabbit to starve to death in her hutch

Junkie Kayleigh Weston from Stoke-on-Trent left a little rabbit named Smudge to starve to death in her filthy hutch
Junkie Kayleigh Weston left a little rabbit named Smudge to starve to death in her filthy hutch

A police officer went to the defendant’s address and found the rabbit, named Smudge, dead in a hutch filled with droppings. He alerted the RSPCA and an examination found the animal was emaciated.

Roger Price, prosecuting for the RPSCA, told North Staffordshire Justice Centre a police officer visited the defendant’s home on April 14, 2018, and when there was no answer he went to the back of the house.

Mr Price said: “He was alerted to look into a rabbit’s hutch. There was an empty water bottle and an empty food bottle. There were a lot of droppings piled up. There was a lifeless black and white rabbit which was clearly dead.

“The RSPCA became involved and the rabbit was examined. A post mortem examination was carried out. The vet found there was no body fat at all on the animal and a very poor muscle mass. It was emaciated. All the skeletal bones could be seen. It had had diarrhoea and was probably dehydrated.

“The rabbit was significantly underweight. It was clearly ill and in need of veterinary attention.

“The rabbit was totally dependent on the owner to regularly inspect daily and to provide adequate food for the pet. It was estimated to have been dead for between two and four days.”

The defendant, who had owned the rabbit for six years, said she fed Smudge nuggets and carrots between 5pm and 6pm and cleaned the hutch once a week, but on occasions it was longer.

The court heard she last cleaned it out one or two weeks before the officer found the rabbit.

She added she did not think the rabbit was thin.

Weston pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by failing to explore and address the animal’s poor bodily condition between April 2 and 14, 2018.

The court heard the defendant descended into a chaotic lifestyle due to her drug use.

All her other pets have since been re-homed and she is, apparently, no longer using drugs.

James Hulse, mitigating, said the defendant’s care for the animal was ‘sporadic and incompetent’.

Mr Hulse said: “She threw food into the cage but did not look to see if the rabbit was eating the food properly.

“Had she been to the vet and said, ‘My animal is not eating’. It is that that has not occurred. There was care but it was incompetent.”

Speaking after the case, RSPCA inspector Charlotte Melvin said: “This hutch was at least a few inches deep with faeces. The dead rabbit was found in a second compartment in the hutch. There was no food or water and as the rabbit was so emaciated it became clear that she had starved to death. There wasn’t even any rabbit food in the house.

“This was confirmed by a post mortem, which also showed that Smudge had zero body fat. She said that because Smudge was outside, she forgot about her. It is so sad that it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.

“It is so important to look after pets which are kept outside just as well as you would with pets who live inside your house, particularly as it gets colder and people are going outside in their gardens less.

“On top of that, rabbits have sensitive stomachs and going without food for even just 12 hours can cause them to suffer. The fact that Smudge went without food for so long is unbearable.

“It’s unbelievably cruel to simply leave an animal to slowly die in a cage without the care they need and deserve to survive.”

Sentencing:
Fined £240 and ordered to pay costs and charges totalling £330. Disqualified from owning an animal for five years but can apply to have the disqualification terminated after three years.

Stoke Sentinel