#TheList Leighton Marc Donnelly, born c. 1984, of Maes Glas, Pontyates, Gwendraeth Valley SA15 – abandoned snakes to starve to death
Leighton Donnelly pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – when he appeared before magistrates.
The court heard that he fled a property in Baptist Well Street, Waun Wen, Swansea after falling behind on his rent. When the landlord entered the house after weeks of failing to make contact, he found a starving boa constrictor loose in a bedroom.
A dead snake was found in a vivarium in the property.
Jon Tarrant, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told the court the grim discovery was made on April 14, 2019.
Mr Tarrant said the boa constrictor was examined by a vet who said the animal was in a very emaciated state, and had lost a significant amount of body weight.
The vet concluded the snake “would have needed a prolonged period of starvation” to end up in such a poor physical state.
In his interview Donnelly admitted that last time he had seen the snakes was in “February or March”.
The defendant, who represented himself in court, apologised for actions.
Magistrates told him courts took animal offences seriously and he had shown a “flagrant disregard for the welfare” of the snakes.
Sentencing: 12-month community order with a rehabilitation course and 60 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £400 towards costs. Banned from keeping any animal for two years.
#TheList Edward ‘Eddie’ George Bath, born 04/06/1961, of 97 Arrael View, Abertillery NP13 1SU – for failure to care for a large number of horses, goats and poultry.
Bath pleaded guilty to four animal welfare offences after the RSPCA found significant failings in his care of 42 horses at a farm in Old Blaina Road, Abertillery
Two horses were found collapsed and were sadly put to sleep on the advice of a vet.
RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil said: “Sadly these animals were not cared for appropriately.
“The horses outside were not given enough food and were not provided for. The stables were filthy and it was just appalling to see these numbers of animals poorly being cared for.”
Inspector McNeil added: “We issued warnings to improve the conditions at the premises, which included a large number of horses, two goats and poultry.
“Sadly this advice was not taken on board and in March we returned and through a warrant, we removed 37 horses. One of these horses was put to sleep due to its condition on the advice of a vet. On this occasion, we also removed 20 poultry and two goats – one of which was pregnant.”
All animals are now signed over to the RSPCA and are being placed into the rehoming process.
Sentencing: 18-week custodial sentence for each offence (to run concurrently) suspended for 18 months; 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement; total of £1,675 costs and charges. Banned from keeping all animals for life.
#TheList Lindsey ‘Lyn’ Stoneham, born April 1962, of 10 Llwyncelyn, Bettws, Bridgend CF32 8RU – inflicted blunt force trauma on his Jack Russell terrier; dog named Tom put to sleep to end his immense suffering
Lindsey Stoneham, who has a previous conviction for VAT fraud for which he was jailed for three-and-a-half years, was found guilty of animal cruelty following a trial.
The offence concerned subjecting Tom to unnecessary suffering through blunt force trauma.
Stoneham had phoned a veterinary practice on 14 March 2018 in Bridgend asking for them to put Tom to sleep. He claimed the dog had behavioural problems, but refused to pay the £130 quoted, and instead said he would “take the dog to the farmer”.
Little over two weeks later – on 31 March – Stoneham attended the same veterinary practice with the dog, claiming Tom had been hit by several cars. However, the Jack Russell Terrier was found to be in immaculate condition apart from a single hole in his head, arousing suspicion and prompting an RSPCA investigation.
Tom was smothered in blood from the wound and his eyes were flickering.
Sadly, the extent of the dog’s open head wound meant he had to be put to sleep immediately to prevent further suffering. Vets later confirmed that the injuries were completely inconsistent with a road traffic accident.
A post-mortem revealed that the dog had been struck by a blunt force instrument which was likely to have caused significant trauma. Bruising was also evident to Tom’s head, where fingers were used to hold the head still.
RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper said: “The treatment of poor Tom and the horrific treatment and immense suffering he endured is so upsetting.
“It was claimed that Tom had been involved in a car accident – but the injuries were found to be wholly inconsistent with such a chain of events.
“Tom, instead, was found to have been subjected to blunt force trauma to the head.
“Sadly, the dog was clearly in immense pain when taken to a veterinary practice with blood all over his body – and he had to be put to sleep immediately.
“This was a lengthy and complex case, but at least we were able to ensure some justice for Tom, who sadly paid such a high price for the mistreatment he faced.”
Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence suspended for one year; total of £2,150 costs and charges. Four-year ban on keeping any animals Deprivation order on two shire horses.
#TheList Justin Thomas Williams, born c.1992, of 31 Lon Ogwen, Bangor LL57 2UD – filmed a vicious fatal attack by his dog on a ginger cat
Justin Thomas Williams admitted allowing his greyhound-type dog to bite, drag and shake the cat in the South Stack area of Holyhead, Anglesey, in March 2018.
Prosecutor Diane Williams told a district judge at Caernarfon court that police seized a mobile phone at Williams’s home and a 24 second video clip showed the “vicious and cruel” attack on the distressed cat.
In December 2018 the defendant received a suspended sentence for disclosing private sexual snaps.
A probation officer said the jobless cannabis smoker was hunting rabbits on a farm that night and Williams claimed the dog went into a bush. The defendant maintained there was no intention to set the dog on the cat and he “accidentally” filmed the savaging.
Defence solicitor Bethan Williams said her client denied encouraging the attack. “The video shows Mr Williams. He’s deliberately filming, he can’t deny that he’s filming the dog attack the cat.
“There’s no evidence he deliberately set the dog on the cat but he certainly doesn’t intervene,” the lawyer said. “It appears the cat passed away.”
District judge Gerallt Jones told Williams: “This is a serious incident. It looks to me as you having pleasure from the distress and cruelty that was going on.
“You did nothing at all to help. Rather than try and assist the cat you took pleasure in filming it and encouraging the dog to do what it did.”
Sentencing: 15-week suspended jail term; 150 hours of unpaid work; £615 costs. Banned from having any animal for five years.
#TheList Steffan Lee Harris, born 17/12/93, and Barbara Ray Howell, born 21/08/93, of Gorwyn, Tenby Road, St Clears, Carmarthen SA33 4JN – kept dozens of dogs in shocking conditions at illegal puppy farm
Steffan Lee Harris and partner Barbara Ray Howell pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences, running a dog breeding business without a licence, and consumer offences relating to the advertising of dogs online.
Animal inspectors found starving and sick dogs being held in sheds and barns at premises operated by the couple who sold puppies online while pretending to be private sellers.
Paul Hobson, prosecuting, told the court how the couple advertised on a website called, ironically, he said, preloved.co.uk.
One buyer paid £225 for a puppy from a caravan the pair rented at Waun Dwni farm, Tanygroes. The animal became ill before the buyer got back home to Cardiff and they ended up paying £700 in vet’s bills.
Mr Hobson said the puppy had not been microchipped, vaccinated or treated for fleas as the couple had claimed in their advertisement.
A major investigation followed, first by Ceredigion County Council and then by the RSPCA.
Inspectors found 82 dogs being kept in poor conditions – 49 breeding females, 12 males and 21 puppies ready for sale.
Many of the dogs were kept in small enclosures with little light or access to fresh air with poor or muddy bedding and sharp corners and low-hanging electrical cables across the pens.
A lurcher could hardly move, a terrier was tied to a breeze block and a collie had a body score of one out of nine and was close to death.
Another dog was kept in a sealed container and it appeared impossible for anyone to get in to feed or water her, said Mr Hobson.
Inspectors also found pigs squealing through lack of food and water, and chickens that appeared not to have been fed or given access to water. One chicken collapsed in front of them.
The court heard Harris, who was present during the inspection, was “less than cooperative” during the process.
Harris and Howell both admitted cruelty offences in relation to the pigs and Harris to the chickens.
Mr Hobson said further investigation showed that Harris had a flock of 110 sheep on nearby land, which he rented.
The owner became concerned because he did not seem to be there to look after them and inspectors found sheep carcasses that should have been disposed of properly.
After Harris was made aware of their concerns the sheep disappeared, apart from 19 which he seemed to have simply abandoned.
Mr Hobson said an initial financial investigation suggested the couple had banked £150,000 between 2013 and 2018 through the sale of puppies.
A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation is underway to determine how much money could been confiscated from them. That matter will be settled at a court hearing on 15 November, 2019.
After his arrest Harris said he wanted to get the puppy farm up and running before applying for a licence.
Howell said she only looked after the paperwork.
For Harris and Howell James Hartson said he accepted that anyone seeing the photographs of the dogs could not fail to be mortified.
“They had ambitions for a business but lost control. It is likely the financial consequences will be punitive,” he added.
Mr Hartson urged the judge not to impose banning orders preventing the defendants from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs as that would effectively stop Harris from carrying out his work as a herdsman.
Judge Peter Heywood said animals were defenceless and Harris and Howell had housed them in totally inappropriate surroundings.
“This was a significant commercial enterprise and Harris was the driving force,” he added.
“You were in it to make money and had no regard for the welfare of the animals.”
The judge said Harris, who cannot read or write, had been the “driving force” behind the enterprise while Howell had assisted him.
He said he would be failing in his public duty if he suspended Harris’ sentence, but took into account that Howell had a young child when sentencing her.
Sentencing: Harris was jailed for six months (half to be served on licence) while Howell was given a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete a rehabilitation activity requirement. Both were made the subject of banning orders preventing them from owning or being concerned in the care of dogs, chickens, and sheep for the next five years.
#TheList Marc Evan Roderick John, born 04/06/1973, of Market Street, Haverfordwest SA61 1NF – failed to treat his dog’s infection and weight loss
Marc John was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog between November 6 and December 18, 2018.
RSPCA prosecutor Nick Devonald said the dog known as Tyson was found to be ‘extremely thin’ when examined by a vet, with a body score of just one out of five, and a large infected ulcerated tumour on his cheek.
Tyson had to be euthanised due to his condition days later, and it was estimated to have taken six to eight weeks for the dog to reach such poor condition.
Mr Devonald said: “The dog was clearly emaciated with an obvious swelling to its cheek and hair-loss near his tail.”
When interviewed John stated Tyson was his ex-partner’s animal, and had not been there when he returned to pick up his belongings.
He said he had fed the dog, who would improve then lose condition again, wormed him and provided a flea collar.
The court heard that Tyson had been in John’s care for around five years before he was found roaming in a road at Haverfordwest and taken to a vet.
Mr Devonald added that the neglect had been prolonged as he handed magistrates pictures of his injury.
Mike Kelleher, defending, said John and his ex-partner needed to move out of their former home quickly following their break-up and he found one dog but no sign of Tyson when he returned to collect his things.
Mr Kelleher said: “For the dog’s last days he did not have control of it and fully believed that his ex-partner had taken him and was looking after him in the normal way.”
He added: “Had the split-up not happened, he assures me in no way would Tyson had been left, and he would have taken him to the vet if he had seen the state he was in.”
The court heard that John had signed over ownership of the second dog to a person who lived in the same property as him.
Sentencing: 12 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months; 300 hours of unpaid work. £715 in costs and a surcharge. Banned from keeping animals for five years.
#TheList farmer Dylan E Williams, born c. 1972, of Neuaddlwyd Isaf, Ciliau Aeron, Lampeter SA48 7RE – pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after 47 rotting sheep were found on his land.
Williams, who also owns a tree surgery business, pleaded guilty to four animal welfare and animal by-products offences after an investigation carried out by Ceredigion Council.
When animal welfare officers visited the farm in April 2018, they found 47 sheep carcasses in various states of decomposition. These carcasses were accessible by other sheep and young lambs that were still alive.
The council said the majority of sheep seen on the land were suffering from severe wool loss and irritated skin, signs of a debilitating condition known as sheep scab.
Two of the charges brought against Williams under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 concerned the causing of unnecessary suffering to two ewes – one of which was found unconscious with her intestines protruding from her body.
Another offence related to Williams not meeting the welfare needs of his sheep due to the fact that he failed to properly inspect the flock. He also failed to manage and treat the sheep scab effectively.
In total, there were three separate offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and one under the Animal By-Products Regulations.
Sentencing: 250 hours of unpaid work; ordered to pay £1,648 costs. Not banned from keeping animals.
#TheList Dean Williams, born 15/03/1980. of 13 Clos Y Ffynnon, Pontprennau, Cardiff CF23 8HW – hurled a small French bulldog to the floor from above his head before punching her several times.
Construction worker Dean Williams, whose long list of previous convictions includes rape as well as dishonesty, violence and motoring matters, threw the French bulldog, named Koda, to the ground and punched her in the head before being chased down by a witness on a busy Cardiff street.
Cardiff Magistrates Court heard how 39-year-old Williams was later found lying on the ground trying to entice the “cowering” dog from underneath a car after she had ran off in the early hours of May 4, 2019.
Williams claimed Koda “jumped out” of his arms but magistrates said his version of events was not “credible in any way” and found him guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
The court heard that the three witnesses all saw Williams pick up the dog and throw her to the ground near Richmond Road.
Two of the witnesses were students Sarah Bill and Emily Johnson returning home in a taxi after a night out.
Giving evidence to the court, Ms Johnson said: “I looked behind me out of the window and saw him pick it up above his head and throw her to the floor.”
She told the court she believed Williams used two hands and had picked up the dog holding two of her legs.
Ms Bill told the court she only saw Williams throw the dog when it was “about a foot” off the ground, after Ms Johnson called out.
Ms Bill then left the taxi they were travelling in to chase after Williams and the dog, to “try and get it off him because in my opinion he was inflicting pain”.
With the dog under Williams’ arm, Ms Bill said she followed them down Richmond Road and onto Gordon Road.
Ms Bill said she also saw Williams punch the dog in the head “more than three times”.
After chasing Williams, Ms Bill realised she was alone so ran back “hysterical” and calling for someone to call the police.
At this point Uber Driver Chris Inchley stopped to speak to the women after also witnessing Williams throw the dog.
At first Mr Inchley thought Williams was chasing after the dog because she was lost, but he told the court: “[Then] he picked the dog up above his head and threw it to the floor with force.”
He said he was “shocked” and that the dog “yelped”.
Mr Inchley added: “He was punching the dog to the head about four or five times. It was hard, it was very hard.”
The Uber driver then picked up the two women and they returned to Gordon Road where they found Williams laying on the floor looking for the dog.
Ms Johnson said: “When we came down we saw [Williams] lying on the floor looking under the car with a French bulldog cowering underneath. The dog was clearly in fear of this man. When the police came the dog came out.”
Police arrested Williams at the scene, and later interviewed him where he replied “no comment” to each question.
One of the officers, PC Southey, was at one point visibly upset as she gave evidence on Thursday. PC Southey described blood around the mouth of the dog and that it calmed down once Williams had been put in the police car.
A vet report found the dog had some minor injuries, including a small hemorrhage on her eye and a lesion above her eye.
Luis Williamson, defending, questioned if Ms Ball’s and Ms Johnson’s consumption of alcohol on their night out had impaired their judgement, which they both denied, and said there were inconsistencies in the evidence by the three civilian witnesses.
Mr Williamson added that the injuries of the dog were caused previously through “puppy play”.
Giving evidence, Williams said: “She jumped out of my hand and I tried to grabbing her because it was a busy road. She jumped out and I picked her back up. I’m an animal lover myself, I have had her since she was a pup. She was a family pet.”
He added that the dog was under the car only because of the number of people on the street, and denied hurting the dog or remembering interacting with Ms Ball.
In their verdict chair of the bench Martin Dennett said: “We have listened to the evidence we have heard today and while there maybe some inconsistencies, the underlying facts and descriptions are clearly articulated.
“We can clearly see there are facial injuries. We felt it suffered abuse at the hands of [Williams]. We are satisfied an attack took place and substantial in nature. We do not find your version of events credible in any way.”
Williams had pleaded not guilty at a previous hearing after being charged with one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
On Wednesday 17 July 2019 Williams appeared in court for sentencing.
The court heard Williams was alcohol-dependent and had consumed around four to five pints of lager on the day of the incident but “was not drunk”.
A report by the probation service said Williams was on anti-depressants and he told them he drinks “as much as I can get my hands on”.
Koda was rehomed with witness Sarah Bill and renamed Lola.
Sentencing: eight weeks in custody suspended for 12 months. Ordered to carry out 20 rehabilitation activity days. Total of £735 costs and charges. Banned from keeping animals for three years, which was suspended for four weeks to allow his other animals to be rehomed.
#TheList Lisa Maria Rayner, born 29/01/1982, of Pontnewydd Walk, Cwmbran NP44 -allowed her pet shih-tzu to become emaciated
Rayner pleaded guilty to one animal welfare offence in relation to a shih-tzu type dog named Buster, who was found to be in an emaciated condition.
RSPCA inspector Izzi Hignell said: “When I found this poor little guy he was in an emaciated condition. He looked thin but as he is really fluffy you can’t really tell how bad his condition was. But when I felt him he was skeletal to touch. He weighed just 4.85 kilos. There was just no excuse for leaving him in this poor condition.
“Since he has been fed appropriately and has been wormed he has put on weight and is now around double the size and is looking really healthy. He is such a lovely little dog and now following this outcome of this case, he will soon be made available for rehoming. He now weighs a healthy 8.950 kilos.
Buster is currently at RSPCA Newport Animal Centre and once he is ready for rehoming his details will be uploaded to Find A Pet.
Sentencing: ordered to pay £600. Deprivation order for Buster. Banned from keeping animals for just three years.
#TheList Ryan Harrison, born c. 1994, of Masefield Road, Caldicot, Monmouthshire NP26 4JY, Tomas Young, born c. 1993, of East Pentwyn, Blaina, Abertillery, Monmouthshire NP13, and Cyle Jones, born 09/11/1987, of Cwrt Tarrell, Newgate Street, Brecon, Powys LD3 8ED – for the barbaric persecution of wildlife, which included skinning alive a baby badger, and cruelty including violence to dogs
Ryan Harrison, Cyle Jones and Tomas Young were jailed for badger baiting and animal cruelty following a probe by a BBC Wales TV programme.
The court was told that an RSPCA inquiry was launched following an undercover investigation by BBC Wales Investigates. The programme entitled The Secret World of Badger Baiters was shown in May 2018 and is currently available to watch on YouTube.
Following the programme’s broadcast warrants were executed at the addresses of the three individuals identified, being Young, Harrison and Jones
A phone seized from Harrison contained numerous videos, text messages and images depicting hunting and animal cruelty offences. Video clips alone amounted to 447 with the majority of the material extreme in its nature.
The animal cruelty footage showed wildlife being killed and dogs with extensive injuries from being used to hunt animals. The voice of Harrison was heard and there were videos and pictures showing Young.
The RSPCA special operations unit also were able to view footage obtained by the BBC.
One particular horrific incident involved a baby badger which had been skinned alive by dogs.
The badger’s skin was split down the middle and pulled back from the body.
Shortly after the baby badger is seen to be still alive and is killed by Young hitting it with a shovel.
District Judge Neil Thomas described the trio’s offences as “medieval barbarity”.
Harrison and Young pleaded guilty to six joint offences in that they did wilfully kill, injure or take a badger on four different occasions.
They also admitted attempting to take or kill a deer in the Forest of Dean, and causing unnecessary suffering to a boar by letting it be attacked by dogs and by stabbing the animal with a knife.
Harrison also pleaded guilty to another nine offences.These were:
Attempting to take or kill a deer
Attempting to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger on two occasions
Causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier dog called Ted by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s lip and chin
Causing unnecessary suffering to a terrier by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s chin area
Causing unnecessary suffering to a boar by causing the said animal to be attacked by dogs and by stabbing the said animal with a knife
Causing unnecessary suffering to terrier called Brock by failing to obtain professional veterinary care for injuries to the dog’s neck area
Two other charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a boar, by causing the animal to be attacked by dogs
Jones admitted two charges of unnecessary cruelty to animals, relating to two dogs that were injured.
He was given a custodial sentence because he was not allowed to keep dogs, having been previously convicted of having a dog dangerously out of control.
In their defence, the men said they had grown up with countryside pursuits.
There was no mitigation, said the judge, as far as he could see.
“The absence of remorse was obvious,” he said.
Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “The RSPCA’s special operations unit has to investigate some truly gruesome acts on animals. But the prolific nature of these horrific crimes are some of the worst I – and my inspectors – have ever had the displeasure of witnessing.
“This barbaric, deliberate and calculated torture has caused wildlife and dogs to suffer immeasurably, solely for the sadistic pleasure of a handful of depraved individuals.
“BBC Wales’ initial work on this case was very important, and firmly in the public interest – paving the way for the RSPCA to undertake this investigation and bring these perpetrators to justice.
“Sadly, people who enjoy inflicting such pain and suffering on wildlife continue to offend in Wales. The RSPCA will not rest in bringing people like these to justice.
“As well as BBC Wales, we’d also like to thank the police forces who assisted us on this case – Gwent Police, South Wales Police, Dyfed Powys and Gloucestershire Police.”
Sentencing: Ryan Harrison was jailed for 22 weeks, Thomas Young got 20 weeks and Cyle Jones was given 18 weeks. All three defendants were banned from keeping dogs for life.