#TheList Aaron Ray, born c. 2002, of 29 Mayfield Road, Sunderland SR4 0NE – stabbed a pet cockatiel to death in a fit of rage
Aaron Ray left the unnamed family pet with fatal injuries after plunging a knife into the back of her neck.
Northumbria Police officers found the deceased bird after being called to Ray’s home following reports of a disturbance. When questioned, Ray displayed an astonishing lack of remorse for his sickening cruelty, insisting “it’s just a bird”.
In court, Ray pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
PC Peter Baker, wildlife officer at Northumbria Police, said Ray’s conviction should act as a reminder that animal cruelty is a criminal offence.
He said: “Aaron Ray showed a total disregard for the welfare of this bird and inflicted catastrophic injuries that it could not survive from.
“This kind of behaviour is not only reckless and upsetting, but a criminal offence and that’s the lesson that Ray now must learn.
“We are a nation of animal lovers, so it is upsetting to come across incidents such as this where the defendant has caused inevitable and unnecessary suffering to an animal.”
Sentencing: 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year. 15-year ban from owning animals.
The court was told how neighbours called the RSPCA to Tolley’s flat, as they were concerned her dog had been left unattended in the property for some time. They said they had not seen Tolley for several days.
Inspector Emma Dingley was sent to the address and knocked on the door but when she got no reply she looked through the letterbox and could see Roo collapsed on the hallway floor in her own faeces.
She was in an emaciated state and Emma could see a huge tumour on her front leg.
She called the police for assistance so she could enter the property and rescue Roo.
The poorly dog was extremely cold and was too weak to stand or lift her head. Emma carried her out of the property and rushed her to the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital.
Staff at the centre placed heat pads on Roo as she was suffering from hypothermia and gave her fluids as she was severely dehydrated. Her body temperature was found to be just 33.8C where the normal body temperature should be around 39C.
The veins were very collapsed, which made placement of a catheter for fluid replacement very difficult. It was thought the collapse of the veins was due to both dehydration and hypothermia.
A vet also found a large mass, approximately 12cm by 20cm which was ulcerated and would have been present for weeks causing intense suffering to the dog but Tolley had not sought veterinary treatment.
Emma said: “Roo was in an awful state when I went to rescue her. She was laid in her only faeces and couldn’t stand as she was so weak and in poor health
“She was freezing as there was no heating in the property so I wrapped her in a blanket and comforted her.
“She was clearly starved and as I cradled her in my arms to carry her to the van she knew I was trying to help her and she tried to wag her tail. It was heart-breaking.
“Staff at the animal hospital were doing all they could to save her but she was basically dying in front of our eyes and there was nothing we could do. She refused to eat even though she was starving.
“Sadly the following day she had deteriorated further so the vet made the decision to put Roo to sleep to end her suffering.
“It was so upsetting for us all – I just take some comfort from the fact she had kind people with her when she died and was not frightened and alone in the flat.
“This was a very upsetting case to deal with and there is never any excuse to abandon a pet – particularly in such a callous way.”
Sentencing: six-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months; 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirement; £100 costs. Five-year ban on keeping animals.
#TheList serial domestic abuser Samuel Thomas Johnson, born 04/06/1985, of Ashwell Drive, Shirley, Solihull B90 3LR – kicked a dog repeatedly during a drunken and drug-fuelled attack on his girlfriend; traumatised dog put to sleep weeks later
Former soldier Johnson, who was previously cautioned for domestic violence against another woman, threw his girlfriend to the floor and strangled her before kicking Staffy Rosie as she desperately tried to protect her owner
The woman’s young son was upstairs while Johnson battered her and Rosie. The brave and loyal dog was left so traumatised by the vicious attack, she had to be put down by the vets just months later.
In passing sentence, the judge said Johnson had the power to inflict serious damage with his fists along with an issue with his temper.
He touched upon his ‘worrying’ history of two other actual bodily harm (ABH) offences, one inflicted upon a previous partner, and said future girlfriends needed ‘protecting’.
Despite this the judge concluded by wishing Johnson “all the best” as he passed a suspended sentence.
The court heard Johnson is now seeing a psychiatrist in relation to his time in the army, though his defence solicitor said the most recent assault could not entirely be attributed to his traumas.
Sentencing: four-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. 30 days of rehabilitation activity and a structured intervention for domestic abuse course. 10-year restraining order. No ban on keeping animals was imposed.
#TheList Steven Sai Chong To, born 21/03/1992, and wife Charlotte Plimmer, born 15/11/1996, both of 13 Theatre Royal Apartments, 15 Shoplatch, Shrewsbury SY1 1HR – for cruelty offences relating to four kittens
Takeaway worker Steven To killed two kittens and inflicted months of abuse on two others while his wife, Charlotte To (née Plimmer) failed to react to the ongoing cruelty.
Between August 2018 and March 2019, the Tos inflicted abuse which RSPCA veterinarian Dr David Martin said was the worst he had seen in his 22 years of practice.
The court heard how eight-week-old kittens Jin and Sun, and two-month-old pets Moon and Mew, suffered seizures, broken bones, infections, hair and skin loss, multiple amputations and tail lacerations which left one “hanging on by a thread”.
Steven To pleaded guilty to three animal cruelty charges relating to harming the cats, and Charlotte To pleaded guilty to four charges of failing to provide a safe environment and veterinary care.
Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Sara Pratt, said: “The defendants lived together with their kittens in a flat in Shrewsbury.
“Over the period of August 2018 and March 2019, they acquired a total of four kittens, two of which were killed while in the care of the defendants, as a result of the actions of Steven To – Jin was almost 12 weeks old and Mew was just five months old at the time of their deaths.”
The court heard Jin and Sun were registered at Animal Trusts Vets and deemed healthy in August 2018, before Moon and Mew were registered at a different practice, Copthorne Veterinary Clinic, in November 2018.
Ms Pratt added: “On September 14, 2018, a phone call was made to Animal Trust Vets reporting that Jin had been playing, knocked over some recycling, started having a seizure and died.
“On September 21, Sun was anaesthetised and X-rays revealed a fresh fracture to her right tibia.”
The court heard in October 2018, Sun was taken to the vets with two “kinks” in her tail, before returning three days later with it “hanging off”.
The defendants bought Moon and Mew in November 2018, before Sun was taken to the vets again with hair and skin loss.
Mew then suffered an injury to her chin where the skin had become detached from her jaw bone and required surgery, the court heard.
Ms Pratt said: “Just seven days after surgery to her avulsed chin, Mew was returned to Copthorne Vets with an extreme fracture dislocation midway down the tail – all tendons had been ripped.”
Mew was found dead on the kitchen floor days after returning from the vets following a tail amputation.
The court heard that an RSPCA post mortem found evidence of blunt trauma to the right side of the cat’s thorax and neck, as well as evidence that the cat had lost blood externally through the nose.
The court then heard how in February 2019, Moon was taken to Abbey Veterinary Centre starved, and again with a leg fracture in March.
Following concerns raised by the veterinary practices and the RSPCA, later that month Moon and Sun were seized by police and a full investigation was launched.
A report by Dr Martin stated that it was “clear” all four cats sustained “serious injuries” and that two died from “traumatic incidents”.
He added: “It is exceptionally unusual to have such a significant incidence of serious trauma in four cats over such a short period of time, to the extent that in 22 years of veterinary practice, I have never seen or heard of such a high incidence of serious injury.”
District Judge Kevin Grego said there was “no doubt” a lifetime ban was necessary for Mr To, and that Mrs To should not have “covered her eyes” to the ongoing abuse.
He said: “The penny must have dropped after a short period of time. She [Mrs To] either should have got those animals out of the house or at the very least ensured it wasn’t going to happen again.”
Judge Grego added: “Animal cruelty is incisive of a mindset that’s corrosive and damaging – that’s what makes this so serious.
“There should be no doubt the animals that died and suffered did so as a result of deliberate cruelty from you, Steven.
“That cruelty and death could have been avoided if you, Charlotte, didn’t frankly cover your eyes and accept what your husband told you when you knew what you were being told was unsustainable
Sentencing: Steven To was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours of unpaid work, 25 days of rehabilitation, a lifetime ban on keeping animals and was ordered to pay £5,000 court costs, more than £3,500 in vets’ fees and a £122 surcharge.
Charlotte To was given a 12-month community order, with 25 days of rehabilitation, 40 hours of unpaid work, a seven-year ban on owning animals and was ordered to pay £390 costs.
#TheList Michael ‘Mick’ Lingen, born 11/07/1967, of 29 Northfield Street, Worcester WR1 1NS – killed a Yorkshire terrier by hitting him on the head with an axe
Lingen admitted two charges – one of destroying the dog, who belonged to his former partner, and another of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal by striking him in the head with an axe.
Magistrates said the offence was so serious they had to impose a sentence of 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.
Lingen must carry out 200 hours unpaid work within the next twelve months.
He must also pay £135 costs and a £122 victim surcharge.
Lingen was also disqualified for life from owning or keeping all animals or being involved in any arrangement in which he could control or influence their care – made under Section 34 Animal Welfare Act 2006.
#TheList John Benjamin Cook, born 13/11/1993, and his brother William Cook, born 11/07/1989, both of Little Acres, Longfield Avenue, New Barn, Longfield, Dartford DA3 7LA – ran a puppy farm and a cock-fighting ring
Gypsy travellers John and William Cook were convicted of a number of animal welfare offences.
In July 2018 RSPCA officers executed a warrant at the sprawling property in New Barn the brothers share with their extended family, including wives, children and parents, after a member of the public who had bought puppies from them raised concerns.
In total, 18 dogs, including spaniels and beagles were removed along with two cockerels.
Officers also seized a number of mobile phones from the site and a suspecting cock-fighting pit was uncovered. Analysis of the mobiles showed the brothers were involved with fighting and later forensics tests found the blood of at least four cockerels on the pit.
During the four-day trial the court heard how John Cook was accused of causing suffering to a number of dogs, failing to provide them with vet care for stomach and teeth problems and keeping them in unsuitable conditions.
William Cook was accused of a number of offences relating to cockerel fighting.
John Cook pleaded guilty to the offences, while William Cook was convicted of the offences under the Animal Welfare Act.
RSPCA inspector Carroll Lamport, from the charity’s special operations unit, said: “Many of the dogs being kept at the site had health and welfare problems, including untreated gastrointestinal and dental issues.
“We also had serious concerns over the conditions they were being kept in. The dogs and puppies were being kept in dirty, wet conditions with no bedding.”
Sentencing: William Cook – 120-day prison term – suspended for two years. Ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. Disqualified from keeping any animals for three years.
John Cook – 90 days in prison – also suspended for two years; 160 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from keeping dogs for three years.
Both men were ordered to pay £1,000 in costs plus a £115 victim surcharge.
#TheList Ian Gordon McGrath, born 03/01/1975, of The Paddocks, Sandy Lane, Cranage, near Holmes Chapel, Crewe CW6 8HR – left 35 cow carcasses to decay at his dairy farm, left six other cows in such poor condition they had to be put down
McGrath admitted causing unnecessary suffering after a 2018 inspection of Grange Farm, Over Peover, Knutsford, by Cheshire East Council found some animals had no access to food or water.
Attempts had also been made to cover some of the 35 dead carcasses at the farm, which is now run by people who have no connection to this case.
The court heard the dairy farmer McGrath had suffered mental health problems since his father died in 2014.
Rachel Cooper, prosecuting, said that an experienced dairy farmer like McGrath must have known his actions were causing suffering to his animals.
But Adrian Roberts, defending, said McGrath had suffered with mental health problems since his father died in 2014.
He was also under financial pressure because of bovine tuberculosis in his herd and the falling price of milk.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders described the case as “appalling” and sentenced McGrath, who also admitted failing to dispose of dead cattle properly, to 18 weeks in jail which was suspended for 18 months.
He also banned McGrath from owning or keeping livestock for life but this can be reviewed in five years.
McGrath must also pay more than £17,000 in fines and costs, and carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.
#TheList Amy Rutherford, born 12/01/1997, of Coltsfoot Gardens, Gateshead NE10 9RE – locked her two cats in her squalid home while she went to live with her boyfriend
Cats Lucy and Lola almost starved to death after their owner, Amy Rutherford, abandoned them in a dark and freezing property for six weeks.
In court, she pleaded guilty to one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and two of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal.
The court heard that the RSPCA were contacted in early September 2019 after members of the public reported seeing the “distressed” cats jumping up at the windows of Rutherford’s home.
An officer attended and left an RSPCA card, as well as putting sellotape around the hinges of the front door.
The investigator returned a number of times over the following days and saw that the tape was still intact, meaning nobody had entered or left the property.
Eventually, the police gained access on September 20.
Stewart Haywood, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said: “The conditions inside were appalling. There was a strong smell of urine and faeces and it was dark and cold.
“The light switches were not working and the rooms were covered in rubbish.”
The court heard that bin bags had been scratched at by the cats and there was no food or water in their bowls.
The prosecutor added: “The officer found Lucy. She was opening her mouth repeatedly but no sound was coming out. Her pink collar was wrapped around her hips rather than her neck.
“Her bones could be felt and her eyes were sunk.”
Lucy collapsed when she was put in a basket to the point officers thought she had died.
Lola, who was in a slightly better condition, was also seized and taken to a vets, where both were discovered to be emaciated and Lucy to be suffering from hypothermia.
When interviewed, Rutherford claimed she’d only ever left the pets for a couple of days and hadn’t replied to the RSPCA card because she’d been too busy with work.
John Williams, defending, said Rutherford was drinking too much at the time and suffered from secondary bipolar disorder and depression.
He added: “There’s no excuse and she accepts that. She abandoned the cats for about six weeks. She went to stay with her boyfriend as her mental health was deteriorating. She was a manager in a shop but she had to give that up as she could no longer carry on.”
District Judge Kate Meek said: “You had to move out of the house because it was uncomfortable for you because it was cold and dark, but, it’s alright for them [the cats] to suffer and not you?
“They, like any other pet animal, rely completely on you for their care and attention. When you take ownership of them, it’s effectively an agreement that you’re going to look after them.
“They’re technically no more able to do so themselves than a small, young child.”
The judge added: “I have looked at the pictures and they are quite distressing, as it is distressing to hear the particulars.
“It’s absolutely clear that this was over a prolonged period of time and both cats suffered a high degree of harm because of your lack of care and attention that you must be expected to provide any animal in your care.
“There is no justification or explanation for it.”
Sentencing: 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 250 hours of unpaid work. Banned from keeping pets indefinitely.
#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.