Upton, Merseyside: Sean Lawton

#TheList Sean Lawton, born c. 1985, of Big Meadow Road, Upton, Wirral CH49 – left his Staffy in an empty property without food or water and surrounded by mouldy faeces for at least four days

Sean Lawton of the Wirral abandoned Staffy Sam without food or water in an empty property.
Sean Lawton of the Wirral abandoned Staffy Sam without food or water in an empty property.

The court found that Lawton had failed to provide an adequate supply of food and water, appropriate care and supervision, maintain the dog’s body condition and provide a suitable environment.

Chris Murphy, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, told magistrates the animal welfare charity received a call from a concerned member of the public on October 24, 2014, after the dog, known as Sam, was spotted sitting on the inside window ledge of the property. In desperation Sam had had chewed through the brickwork of the wall and door in order to get to the window ledge to be seen.

The RSPCA placed paper seals on the front door and rear gate of the property. They were checked each day for the next four days but were unbroken, showing that no one had returned to the property.

Conditions inside the property where Sam had been abandoned by his owner Sean Lawton of The Wirral
Conditions inside the property where Sam had been abandoned by his owner

RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes – who had been feeding Sam through the letterbox during this time – entered the property with police and a vet on October 28, 2014, finding it to be in a state of “absolute squalor”.

Mr Murphy told magistrates the property smelled so strongly of ammonia that it “stung the eyes” of those who entered.

No food or water was to be found anywhere in the property.

Sam was taken to a vet, who gave him a body score of just 2 – one being emaciated and five being obese. He weighed 15.3kg when he should have been at least 18.5kg.

Mr Murphy said: “The vet anticipated the dog had been in this condition for four days but due to the amount of faeces, which had gone mouldy, believed the dog had been left alone for longer, at least a week to 10 days.”

The man who left Sam to starve to death was identified as Sean Lawton. Lawton had tried to sell the dog on social media but in the end apparently chose to abandon him in an empty property to starve to death.

Dog abuser Sean Lawton of the Wirral pictured outside court
Dog abuser Sean Lawton pictured outside court

Lawton was convicted in his absence of animal cruelty.

Mr Murphy told the court that Lawton “said his child’s mother had left him and he was left with the dog.

“He said he had lived there since February 2011 and moved out about two weeks before the dog had been taken by the RSPCA. He said he had no money and no way of getting there.

“He said he had left some food and water. He said it was a hungry dog. He accepted it was not acceptable to leave the dog and he knew it was wrong.”

He told police he was working ten hours a day and said he did not want to have the dog put down “because he was a good dog”.

Lawton, who was not represented by a solicitor, told the court: “I just did something stupid”.

Sam’s story was featured in Channel 5’s The Dog Rescuers. He programme showed him settling in to his new forever home.

Sentencing: 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. Ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 in costs. 10-year ban on keeping animals with right of appeal after five years (expires April 2025).

Liverpool Echo

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