#TheList Lorna Farrar, born c. 1992, of Wellingborough – neglected and starved two dogs, one of whom had to be put to sleep
Lorna Farrar allowed her dogs, Staffies Panda and Budz, to become malnourished, underweight and in generally poor condition with their coats covered in faeces and urine.
When the mother-of-two took the dogs to the vet Panda collapsed and had to be put down. Budz was given food and water and immediately began eating. Six weeks later he had put on four times his body weight after being put on a normal diet.
The court heard that the examining vet had never seen a dog as emaciated as Panda whom she believed had been starved for three weeks .
There was no underlying medical condition that could have caused the dogs to become emaciated.
Farrar’s lawyer told the court her client was “well-intentioned” but “incompetent” when it came to care.
A post-mortem examination of Panda revealed she had undigested penne in her stomach – because Farrar had been feeding the dogs a “pasta diet”.
Sentencing: Farrar was originally jailed for 18 weeks but this was reduced to a 12-month community order on appeal. Banned for life from keeping animals.
#TheList professional dog walker Jacqueline Wilkins, born c. 1972, of Dorset Grove, Pudsey, Leeds LS28 7EN – caught on CCTV abusing a customer’s pet
Jacqueline ‘Jacqui’ Wilkins, owner of dog-walking service Wilkins Walkies, was caught on camera striking boxer Bella twice and shouting at her repeatedly when the dog would not stay still long enough for her to remove her harness after a walk.
In footage captured on CCTV cameras inside the home of Bella’s owners Gary Hirtsch and Louise Williams, Wilkins can be heard shouting “You’re not doing as you’re told, are you?” and “Do you want another smack?”
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard the couple had hired Wilkins when Miss Williams broke her wrist and was unable to walk Bella and their other dog, Coco.
Bella’s owners checked CCTV footage recorded in their home after noticing a change in the dog’s behaviour. They made a report to the RSPCA after seeing the footage.
Prosecutor Andrew Davidson said: “What you can see there is what the defendant now accepts was unnecessarily rough treatment. The prosecution say there’s very rarely any reason for using that type of behaviour to discipline a dog.”
Wilkins admitted failing to meet the needs of a dog by protecting it from injury or distress. She had initially pleaded not guilty but changed her plea following expert evidence about the psychological damage Bella may have suffered.
A separate charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal was dismissed.
Magistrates were told that Wilkins had experienced a “moment of madness” and felt she was disciplining Bella at the time, but now recognised her behaviour was wrong.
The court heard she was of previous good character and had told her clients about the case, prompting a number to write references and two of them to attend court in support.
A probation officer also reported that Wilkins had reflected on the harm she may have caused Bella and was “completely remorseful” about her actions.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Hirtsch said: “I feel relieved. We had put her in a position of trust. I think they’ve done the right thing for the safety of the other dogs.”
He said Bella’s behaviour had changed significantly following the incident, adding: “Bella was so friendly, but then she was reluctant to go out. She used to cower on the sofa.
Wilkins was visibly upset as she left the courtroom after being told that she would not be allowed to keep her own dog, Bentley, during the two-year ban.
Friend and client Janet Pearson said: “Obviously she’s not going to have an income now but the thing she’s most upset about is losing her dog. Her dog is like her baby.
“I think the court has made an example of her. If I thought she didn’t care and was cruel, clearly there’s no way she would look after mine. It’s not just a business to her though. Dogs are her life.
“She’s worried about her clients too. What are they going to do?”
Sentencing: 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and an RSPCA education programme; total of £385 in costs and charges. Banned from keeping or caring for any dogs for two years – later reduced on appeal to just three months.
#TheList breeder Elaine Erskine, born 13/02/1960, formerly of East Lodge, Craufurdland, Kilmarnock KA3, but now apparently living in a caravan in Fenwick Road, Stewarton, East Ayrshire – lived in a faeces-infested house with 27 dogs, some of whom were “on the brink of death” after she had failed to give them food, water and bedding for six months.
Erskine lived in squalor with 27 dogs in conditions so bad that three of the animals had to be put down.
Images taken at the scene of horror showed two German Shepherds lying in their own filth in a bungalow where Elaine Erskine kept 27 dogs in shocking squalor. The German Shepherds, named Arti and Rosie, were covered in open sores and too weak to lift their heads off the floor.
One was put to sleep on the spot and the other was euthanised later along with a Jack Russell found at the house wounded and in distress.
Other photos show cages where dogs were locked up and rooms buried under rubbish and faeces.
Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how Scottish SPCA sinspectors found animals emaciated and “on the brink of death” when they went to Erskine’s house, after a tip-off about animal neglect.
They got no answer when they arrived. But when they went round the back they found makeshift kennels that housed ten Jack Russells and a squalid, empty outhouse.
The inspectors peered inside the property through patio doors and spotted two German Shepherd dogs and one Jack Russell standing inside a “filthy” kitchen.
When they looked in other windows they spotted three more Jack Russells in an empty room with dog dirt covering the floor.
The inspectors feared the animals were at great risk of suffering and left a card asking the owner to contact them immediately.
When they got no response they returned the next day with a vet and armed with a warrant to get into the property.
As they opened the front door they were immediately hit by a foul stench of urine and faeces.
It was so strong that one inspector had to go out for fresh air and to clear her stinging eyes.
Once inside the house, the team moved from one squalid room to the next — finding more and more neglected dogs badly malnourished, emaciated and covered in their own muck.
They could hardly get into the kitchen because of a mountain of rubbish behind the door.
When they finally got in they discovered the two German Shepherds and four Jack Russells.
The court heard the dogs were in a pitiful state, with one so poorly that they had to be put down on the spot.
And prosecutors said when Erskine arrived at the scene she tried to stop inspectors looking for more dogs.
Fiscal Jennifer Harkins told the court: “In the kitchen there were two adult German Shepherds and a small Pomeranian.
“They were unable to lift their heads and had open sores. At this point the police arrived.
“The accused was spoken to by inspectors but she blocked access to stop them examining the two German Shepherds.
“She stated that she was so ashamed and that she ‘knew that the dogs would need to be put to sleep as they were in a bad way’.
“One of the two German Shepherds was immediately euthanised and the accused became upset.”
Ms Harkins said of the further searches on March 28, 2018: “The main bedroom was the last room to be entered and had two Jack Russells within a cage and a further two pups in another cage.
“A Pomeranian with three small pups was also in a cage.”
The prosecutor went on to talk about another dog that was found to be suffering from a leg fracture and skin ulcers.
She added: “There was another Jack Russell wedged between the cages.
“This dog had extremely bad wounds to both back legs and the bones were clearly visible.
“It was in a great deal of distress and emaciated and was immediately removed from the property.”
Erskine’s defence lawyer Douglas Macphee told the court his client had been living in the same conditions as the animals.
He said: “She accepts full responsibility for these matters. She is very ashamed. She found herself in a position where she struggled to cope and then she couldn’t cope.
“She continued to live in the property notwithstanding the conditions.”
Erskine admitted failing to give the dogs food, water and bedding between December 2017 and March 2018.
Sentencing Erskine to 14 weeks in prison [overturned on 05/12/18], Sheriff Michael Hanlon told her: “This was as bad an example as I’ve ever come across.”
But Erskine’s lawyer appealed against the decision, arguing there were alternatives to custody as a punishment.
Erskine was freed pending the result of that appeal which was ultimately successful.
Sentencing: Jailed for 14 weeks (later overturned on appeal). 200 hours of community service. Banned for life from keeping animals.
#TheList Alexander Kyle Grice, born c. 1966, and Victoria Louisa Kyle Grice, born c. 1968, of Llwyncelyn, Glanarthan, Llandysul SA44 6PL – for cruelty towards dogs, a rabbit and a guinea pig
Brother and sister Alexander and Victoria Grice were both convicted on 12 counts of animal cruelty following a two-day trial in September 2017.
The case was brought by the RSPCA and both defendants had denied all the charges.
Among the offences of which they were jointly convicted were failing to protect a basset hound named Bertie from pain, suffering or disease. Bertie was underweight, in poor condition and not living in a suitable environment.
The pair were also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a bichon frise dog named Bella, who was underweight, suffering from severe dental disease, skin disease, mammary tumours and an ear infection.
The pair were also found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to treat flea infestations, skin, eye and ear infections for various dogs and to causing unnecessary suffering to a rabbit and a guinea pig.
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 Stefan T McCormick (aka Stefan Dixon), born 22/04/1991, from Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside – swung a four-month-old Staffy by his front legs into a solid object. Puppy’s legs were snapped and he was in so much pain he had to be put to sleep.
Stefan McCormick, whose most recent known address is Devonshire Road in Birkenhead CH43, was on bail for the brutal attack on his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Ty, when he breached a non-molestation order and beat up his former partner.
He was jailed for 20 months at Liverpool crown court on October 9, 2014, for the alcohol-fuelled assault on the 17-year-old in Hoylake, in which he punched, kicked and dragged her along the street.
A week later, he appeared via video link at Wirral magistrates’ court, having earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
The court heard the Staffy’s injuries, sustained in December 2013, were so bad he “screamed” when examined by a vet, who was left with no option but to put him down.
Chris Murphy, prosecuting, told the court how RSPCA officers were called to McCormick’s home after a report a dog had been hit by a car.
But the court was told the officer who attended quickly concluded something more sinister had happened.
On examination, the officer said “the dog was clearly in pain – it was unable to get on to its forelimbs. Its paws were bent over and it tried to bunny hop but screamed.”
Vets said the injuries suggested the dog had its legs ripped apart, with one reporting: “The injuries were consistent with a person pulling a puppy by its forelimbs using undue force.”
When an expert was called in to further assess the puppy, he said Ty had suffered “severe blunt force trauma” to his front legs – adding the injuries were consistent with “the dog being picked up by the front legs and swung against a solid object”.
After the hearing RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes described himself as “relieved” McCormick had pleaded guilty, saying the injuries Ty had sustained were “appalling”.
He said: “This has been a long drawn out investigation, probably one of the most brutal and violent I have ever dealt with as well as my colleagues and the police and the vets involved have all been upset by this case… I’m just hoping now that we can get some closure on the case in a few weeks’ time and hopefully the magistrates do the right thing and sentence Mr McCormick accordingly.”
Sentencing: originally jailed for 24 weeks for the animal cruelty offence, to be served consecutively with the 20-month sentence he was already serving for assaulting his ex-partner. This was later reduced to 20 weeks on appeal after the court heard how McCormick had suffered from mental health problems.
#TheList Crufts medal winner Rachel Mortimore, born 30/07/1954, of Foxdown House, Taunton TA3 7DY – kept 300 animals including dogs, horses, cats, chickens, ferrets and rabbits in squalor.
Rachel Mortimore admitted two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals at a hearing in July 2011.
They related to a cat and a dog which were among 300 animals found in squalid conditions at Culmhead’s Foxdown Dog Training Centre in November 2010.
The dog – a Toller retriever – was found with a hole in the side of his face due to an infected abscess in his mouth that had been left untreated.
The cat had an ulcer on her eye that would have “popped” the eye if left untreated.
RSPCA inspectors described the conditions at Mortimore’s dog training centre as ‘filthy, horrible and unbelievable’.
Recorder Michael Parroy QC said that it was clear that Mortimore had far too many animals on the premises to be able to give them proper care.
Mortimore also works as a dog breeder, selling Toller puppies for £750, and has the largest breeding kennels in the country for the breed.
Sentencing: 140 hours of community service; £1,000 in costs. Banned from keeping animals for life but this was later reduced to 18 years on appeal.. Mortimore is allowed to apply to have the ban lifted in nine years from date of conviction, i.e. around July 2020.
#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 David Brinley Braddon (also known as Dai Brad), born 01/05/1963, of 11 Glyn Llwyfen, Llanbradach, Caerphilly CF83 3PL – owned five banned pit bull terrier dogs and was involved in dog fighting
After a three-day trial in June 2010, father-of-five David Brinley Braddon was found guilty of keeping or training a dog for use in connection of animal fighting, guilty of having articles for use in connection of animal fighting and guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog.
On 17 March 2009, officers from the RSPCA special operations unit joined South Wales Police to execute a search warrant at Braddon’s home. A search of the property revealed five pit bull terrier type dogs, four of them being kept in an elaborate kennel set-up in a garage at the rear of the property.
A motorised and a manual treadmill with attachments for dog collars, which are commonly used to train animals before a fight were also discovered.
Braddon’s refrigerator contained a bottle of the penicillin Duphacillin, an animal antibiotic normally only dispensed by a vet. They also discovered a set of weighing scales for use when the dogs were being weighed in before fights and various books on pit bulls and dog fighting including a manual entitled Dogs of Velvet and Steel which was known as the “dog fighter’s bible”.
One of the dogs found at Braddon’s home during the search was known as Otis (pictured). The animal fitted the name, description and photographs of a dog listed in many magazines and fight reports seized by the RSPCA during its investigations into organised dog fighting. Otis featured as having won two fights which was recorded in the Pit Bull Year Book 2008. That dog had 42 separate scars and another dog had 21 scars.
RSPCA chief inspector Mike Butcher said: “It is a major breakthrough for us to successfully prosecute someone like David Braddon.
“He is a major figure among the British dog fighting community, making it all the more pleasing to see him brought to justice.
“Despite this horrific so-called ‘sport’ being banned as long ago as 1835, there remains a network of organised dog fighters still operating across Britain.
“These people are responsible for some of the most deliberate and barbaric acts of animal cruelty the society investigates.
“It remains a constant battle to find these elusive characters and bring them to justice, but the RSPCA remains entirely committed to doing just that.”
Braddon has five children: Emma (born 1984), Amy (born 1986), David James (born 1988), Nikki (born 1990) and Megan Rhian (born 2002). In 2015 son David James Braddon was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
Sentencing: jailed for six months later reduced to 16 weeks on appeal; £1000 costs. Disqualified from keeping animals for 15 years (expires July 2025). All five banned breed dogs were ordered to be destroyed
#TheList Alexander Spence and Sheena Spence (also known as Sheena Percival) of West Bromwich, and more recently Hopes Avenue, Dalmellington, Ayr KA6 7RN – battered a Scottie dog nearly to death before throwing him off a 5th floor balcony
An older case but this unbelievably callous couple NEED to be included in our database. Both are now in their early 70s and, sadly, it would appear that neither has popped their clogs yet.
The Spences were looking after black Scottish terrier Laddie while his elderly owner Nancy Howells was critically ill in hospital.
They told the RSPCA they had lashed out after Laddie bit Mrs Spence on the ankle.
The couple, who were drunk at the time, admitted hitting the dog between two and three times each, causing him to hit a door, before Mrs Spence threw him from the balcony of their flat.
Laddie suffered bruising to the left side of his body, internal bleeding and injuries to internal organs, including a torn liver and kidney damage.
A veterinary surgeon said his injuries were consistent with being beaten rather than a fall and that he was probably “dead or dying” when thrown from the balcony. He estimated that Laddie had undergone a 10-minute ordeal of pain before dying.
Mrs Howells’ daughter told the RSPCA how she received a “curious call” from Mr Spence in which he said: “Hello Pat, the dog has bitten me and Sheena… do you want me to finish him off over the balcony?”
Later, Mrs Spence told Mrs Howells’ son-in-law in a telephone call: “The dog will be OK but that is if he doesn’t come by an accident first.”
When Mrs Howells’ grandson arrived at the couple’s house the following day to collect the dog Sheena Spence handed over the collar and lead, telling him the animal had run away.
Laddie was found by a neighbour who called the council, which then alerted the RSPCA.
Mrs Howells died later the same month and her family said outside court they were never able to tell her what happened to her dog.
Sentence: jailed for 12 weeks and disqualified from keeping animals for life. That sentence was later reduced to 10 weeks suspended for a year and their disqualification order reduced to just 12 months