#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 animal sanctuary owner Sara Jane Ross, born 01/02/1954, of Gardeners Cottage, Chalky Lane, Boughton-under-Blean, Faversham ME13 9SP – failed to meet the needs of horses, cats, dogs and birds in her care
Ross founded the Animal Sanctuary UK, based in Lake End Road, Dorney, Windsor, Berkshire, which was raided by the RSPCA on May 31, 2017.
The sanctuary had fallen into a state of disrepair with dilapidated, vermin-infested sheds housing animals, abandoned industrial machinery lying around and piles of litter and manure in animal enclosures.
RSPCA experts had reported horses lying or standing in their own urine or faeces on boggy paddocks that did not have enough grass. They criticised a lack of food and the presence of flies and vermin – with rats running in and out of the animals’ cages.
Seven cats and eight dogs were confined together inside a single caravan.
Vast swathes of litter were also found where the animals slept, as well as dead rats and mice strewn about. Inspectors found three adult cats confined to a cage only big enough for a kitten.
Other livestock were kept in cramped conditions while some stood as high as 6ft off the ground on rotting hay. They were suffering numerous diseases and many were kept in tiny cages which were unfit for purpose.
The judge saw further clips of the video which showed birds kept in tiny cages with small rings attached to their legs cutting into the flesh. Included also was a turkey kept in a tiny living space fit only for small birds.
Hazel Stevens, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said that the appalling conditions were found after whistleblowers reported the cruelty, abuse and lack of care.
The prosecutor said: ‘Statements from various volunteers suggest the abuse had been ongoing for some time and this abuse took place in a commercial context.
‘Volunteers were allowed to manage and run the farm who had insufficient experience or training to be running such a farm.’
‘The RSPCA had in fact discovered that she (Ross) had hidden many of the animals off-site. Many of those animals have not since re-appeared and could not be found in a second RSPCA check.’
Ross first set up the now-disbanded Horse Refuge in 1994 before opening The Animal Sanctuary UK in June 2012.
She pleaded guilty to six charges of failing to meet the needs of the animals and birds in her care.
District judge Sophie Toms told her: “Something went very badly wrong. I accept you had no intention of mistreating any animals.
“In your mind you were doing your best but your best was not good enough.”
Nigel Weller, representing Ross, said she had been the victim of a hate campaign.
He said: “Some of them are in court. They have ‘trolled’ my client over the internet running down everything she does.
“They bombarded Windsor and Maidenhead Council with thousands of complaints.”
The council subsequently withdrew from a deal to help her move to a better site in Bell Lane, Eton Wick.
Mr Weller said Ross had suffered a serious accident four months before the raid when a horse had trampled her, injuring her foot so badly that she needed four operations and had been unable to attend to the sanctuary as she would have liked to.
He said: “She has been devoted to her sanctuary since 2012. She sold her house in 2005 to devote her assets and money to looking after animals. For 38 years she has been involved in sanctuary work.”
Judge Toms said that the problems on the site clearly dated back to before Ross’ accident.
Ross’s co-defendant Hayley Poturici, born July 1992, of Frensham Walk, Farnham Common, who worked at the sanctuary, faced no further action after she accepted an official RSPCA caution.
Sentencing: ordered to do 135 hours of unpaid work and pay £750 costs. Disqualified from keeping animals for five years (later reduced to 12 months on appeal. Deprivation order issued preventing Ross’s dogs being returned to her.
#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.
But Boswell appealed his sentence straight after the hearing, with an appeal then held at Cambridge Crown Court on July 20, 2017.
It was reported how Pia the white Siamese kitten, worth about £450, belonged to Cambridge resident Caroline King.
Ms King noticed her cat was missing from her garden about 7.20pm on April 7, 2017, and when she went round to ask Boswell about her missing cat, he told her he had been hunting cats since he was 17.
Boswell had told her: “I don’t like cats, I hate them. They are a menace to wildlife and birds.”
Ms King asked if Boswell was joking but he replied: “No, I’ve shot it twice – once in the head, once in the body and I have put it in the neighbour’s garden. You had better knock on their door.”
Ms King went to her neighbours’ garden where she saw her kitten lying motionless on the floor, making no attempt to move.
The kitten had to have her right leg amputated. One air rifle pellet caused a tear in Pia’s windpipe, while the other shattered her femur.
Ms King paid £5,168 for Pia’s veterinary treatment bills after the cat was rushed to a vet and spent more than a week at a Cambridge veterinary hospital.
In a victim impact statement, Ms King said: “I feel devastated and horrified and cannot fathom why somebody I do not know would carry out such an act.
“I cannot believe Chris would be so calm and calculated over what he has done as if he got some enjoyment from it – as he did not have to tell us and could have chosen to remain quiet.”
Following Boswell’s initial sentencing, a neighbour raised concerns he could have something to do with the disappearance of between 12 and 20 cats that have gone missing in the area in the previous five years.
Michael Magee, mitigating for Boswell in the appeal hearing, said Boswell became increasingly isolated and lived a very solitary existence after his retirement.
He told the court that at the time of the incident, Boswell was on painkillers to deal with chronic arthritis and an itching rash “much like scabies” which had spread over his body.
Mr Magee added: “He became increasingly housebound and this led to a deterioration in his mental state.
“In terms of culpability, one can understand how he fostered his little garden and the birds that came into that garden…that was his very small connection to the previous active life that he had.
“With the background of the mental health issues, he picked up an air rifle while in drink, which belonged to his son, and stupidly shot the cat.
“His desire was to protect the birds, not to cause the cat harm.
“With matters of his pain, the cancer, the severe itching rash that had covered the vast majority of his body, the loneliness and perhaps the focus on his family of birds, he called it; he took that relatively stupid decision.”
Mr Magee said Boswell was a rowing coach for many years and had recently been volunteering two nights week for the Cam Rowers charity.
He urged the court to suspend Boswell’s prison sentence, telling them he had sought help for his alcohol addiction entirely by himself and that he was now in a position to be more active in his life.
After retiring to consider the appeal, Recorder Sandeep Kainth warned Boswell that his actions were “grave and serious” but said he felt satisfied that Boswell’s prison sentence could be suspended.
He added: “This was a deliberate attempt to cause suffering; this is evidenced by your actions of shooting the cat two times not one.
“But there are more mitigating features than aggravating features in this case.
“You have an excellent work ethic, you are a man of good character, this incident was isolated and you have shown genuine remorse.
“The risk of you offending again is very low; we accept that your motive was to protect the birds in your garden.
“It’s disappointing that at the age of 73 you find yourself before the courts, but we accept that for you this is a salutary lesson in itself.”
Sentencing: Boswell’s immediate prison sentence earlier handed down by magistrates was amended to a 12-week sentence, suspended for one year.
The court heard that Boswell had paid the £1,500 compensation to Ms King and his air rifle had been forfeited and destroyed.
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.