North West Hunt Saboteurs

Vermin Patrol 2004 - Part 1

Badgers

John Threlkeld (37) of Low Scales, Renwick, near Penrith, appeared before Eden magistrates on 19/1/04 charged with killing two badgers. Threlkeld pleaded not guilty to both offences. He also denied setting a snare to cause injury to a scheduled wild animal. The cases were adjourned to fix a trial date.

On 31/3/04 Leslie Fowell (34) appeared before Wirral magistrates charged with eight offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The charges include willfully injuring badgers and cruelly ill-treating badgers. The badger offences are alleged to have taken place in Flintshire. Fowell is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a controlled drug.


Bloodsports

Michael William Smith, a self-employed pest control contractor based in Essex, pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable precautions to protect humans, creatures and the environment, contrary to the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 at Colchester magistrates on 30/1/03. He said that he had been called in to deal with rabbits and was using phosphine gas at an old badger sett. Smith was fined £250 plus £118 costs.

On 22/7/03 Gary Mark Taylor, a head gamekeeper for Northumberland estates, pleaded guilty to four charges contrary to the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, at Alnwick magistrates. The charges related to the use and storage of fumigant pesticides. Taylor's fines and costs totalled £310. He was acquitted on five charges relating to the use of three cage-traps. In July 2001, the RSPB found a cage-trap on a grouse moor containing a live pigeon, with food, water and shelter provided. It appeared that the trap was intended to take birds of prey - in particular, peregrines. In one trap were two dead mistle thrushes, thought to have starved to death. At his home, an unmarked and unlocked outbuilding held fumigant pesticides that were legally required to be stored under lock and key.

On 5/9/03 in the Court of Criminal Appeal of the High Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh, gamekeeper Malcolm Kempson lost his appeal against his conviction for a number of poisoning offences. On 21/11/01 at Perth Sheriff Court, Kempson was convicted of placing a bait containing carbofuran, poisoning five buzzards and a carrion crow and possessing carbofuran for the purpose of committing offences against the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. He was also convicted of illegal carbofuran storage. These crimes took place on Tillyrie Farm, near Milnathort in Perthshire, where Kempson was leasing the shooting facility and running a pheasant shoot. Following the failed appeal the court made no adjustment to the penalty, however, Kempson must now pay the £2,400 in fines that were originally imposed in the Sheriff Court.

A hunting trip to Ireland has proved an expensive outing for two shooting enthusiasts after they were caught killing protected species. Not only were they arrested and fined a total of 1,600 euros (£1,113) for shooting wild Red deer, a protected species, but their two hunting rifles, worth £2,500 each, were also confiscated by order of the court. On 9/1/04 the District Court in Killarney, County Kerry, was told that Simon Everett (43) of Hilldene, Westhill, Uttoxeter, and Nicholas Pancisi (44) of Stubbs Farm, Stubbs Lane, Stanton, near Ashbourne, had been arrested in the area in possession of the butchered carcasses of a hind and her young calf. Both had been shot separately and gutted. The two admitted a charge of hunting a protected species, but their defence solicitor, Padraig O'Connell, claimed they had acted out of ignorance of the law. They were also fined each man 800 euros.

A Little Lever man was convicted of trespass after being caught hare coursing on farmland in Lancashire. William Rogers (40) of Hall Lane Caravan Site, Little Lever, pleaded guilty to trespassing on land, in pursuit of game. Rogers was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £60 costs by Blackpool magistrates on 20/1/04. Rogers was among a group of men working three dogs who were seen trespassing on the farmland. Rogers has three previous similar convictions for trespass in pursuit of game.

A hunt protester was hit on the head from behind by a hunt supporter as he conducted a peaceful protest. The incident happened on New Year's Day as supporters of Mendip Farmers' Hunt passed through a village. Police arrested a man in connection with the incident and he was dealt with by a formal caution. The protester stated "I asked the huntsmen to stop mutilating our wildlife. I shouted at them to leave our wildlife alone and stop stalking them for fun. I could see them coming over the fields and noticed two people standing around with the hunt following, coming down the road. One of them took exception to me. He took a swing at me and his wife stopped him. He then came up behind me and laid into my head. I suffered large lumps on the side of my head - he was using a metal-tipped staff." A 67-year-old man was arrested and has been given a formal caution by Shepton Mallet police officers on 16/1/04.

John Cripps A gamekeeper accused of slaughtering rare birds of prey kept a diary in code detailing his killings Buxton's magistrates heard on 26/1/04. When the police searched John Cripps's cottage in the Derwent Valley they found 171 wild bird eggs and equipment for climbing trees. The gamekeeper, for a private shooting estate in the valley, faces 19 charges under the Wildlife Act, including 10 of killing rare peregrine falcons, goshawk and sparrowhawk. He is also accused of illegally collecting and smashing birds' eggs. John Cripps (60) of Keeper's Cottage, Ronksley, Derbyshire, denies all the charges. On 30/1/04 he was acquitted of 12 charges of killing goshawk, sparrowhawk and peregrine falcons, which are all protected species. However, he was found guilty of recklessly disturbing a goshawk while it was on a nest containing eggs and intentionally destroying the eggs of a goshawk. On 25/2/04 he was given a three-month suspended jail sentence.

On 8/2/04 Stephen Parkin who is the master of the South Cornwall Hunt was charged by the RSPCA with causing unnecessary suffering to a hound. Parkin (42) from Whitemoor near St Austell, denied the allegations at Bodmin magistrates on 11/2/04. The case against Parkin was adjourned for a pre-trial review to be held in front of magistrates at Bodmin on 16/3/04.

Police found the decaying bodies of two dead dogs and dog bones scattered among beer bottles at a suspected dog-fighting pen in Jonesboro, USA. The plywood pen was found in some woods. A well-worn path led from the pen to the backyard of a rental house from which the Clayton County Police said four pit bull terriers were confiscated after being found to be in extremely bad condition. On 13/2/04 Gary Miller (42) was charged with four counts of animal cruelty in connection with the condition the dogs. He has not been charged with fighting dogs. The police said the confiscated dogs had suffered from bites and injuries consistent with dog fighting.

A gamekeeper and his wife were banned from keeping dogs for three years after their two pets became seriously underweight. Caroline Bunnett (23) and James Bunnett (25) of Narborough Road, Pentney, near King's Lynn, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a black and tan Alsatian cross and a white and tan Jack Russell at Central Norfolk magistrates at Swaffham on 19/2/04. As well as the ban on keeping dogs, the couple were ordered to pay £125 each towards costs. Caroline Bunnett was given a year's conditional discharge and James Bunnett was ordered to do fifty hours' community service.

Goshen, N.Y. - The publisher of a dogfighting magazine was convicted of animal cruelty and dogfighting felonies on 1/3/04, almost a year after 18 pit bulls were taken from his property. James Fricchione (34) from Westtown was found guilty by a judge of one dogfighting and four cruelty counts, as well as five misdemeanors. He publishes the bimonthly Sporting Dog Journal, with about 6,000 subscribers nationwide, from his home in Westtown, about 55 miles northwest of New York City. Most of the 18 pit bulls had injuries like those inflicted in dog fights. Police also seized equipment used to train fighting dogs. Fricchione, who remains free on $10,000 bail, declined to comment. He faces sentencing 14/4/04 before a Orange County Judge. The sad news is that the dogs have been getting better care in shelters, but they will have to be destroyed.
Jonathan Broise
Former Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Foxhounds huntsman, Jonathan Broise was released on bail from Chichester Magistrates at the start of March 2004, charged with Actual Bodily Harm and accused of riding down and breaking the shoulder of anti-hunt protester, at Cathanger, near Petworth.

Stephen Scott (21) of Galalaw Road, Harwick was fined £300 at Jedburgh Sheriff court on 19/3/04. But, his two co-accused brothers Ian Marshall and Paul Marshall of Burnfoot Road and Wilson Drive respectively both walked free after the procurator fiscal accepted not-guilty pleas. All three men had initially faced several charges relating to foxes and badgers. Scott admitted sending a lurcher and two terriers into a fox set. Two foxes fled fromStephen Scott the set and one was caught by the lurcher. A farmer noticed the terrier dogs running loose and saw them entering the fox set. He approached the accused and saw a fox close to the set in its last throes of life. "The accused was then told to get off the land by the farmer". During police interviews Scott a forestry worker admitted responsibility for his dogs and the death of a fox. Since the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act was introduced in 2002, in an attempt to outlaw foxhunts, there has only been one other successful conviction. In December 2003 of a Dundee man, David Murray, who was found on a beach at night with two dogs trying to lure foxes into a trap. Although Murray did not catch any foxes, he was still found guilty under the terms of the law. He admitted hunting for foxes with dogs, but was not convicted of killing foxes.

A hunt master's wife who unfairly sacked her gardener of 15 years has been ordered to pay him £3,420 by an employment tribunal. Adrian Clarke (47) was dismissed by Fiona Smith-Bingham from The Whalebones, Knossington after he picked up an arm injury and was unable to fulfil his gardener and handyman duties. The tribunal, in Leicester on 8/4/04, heard her husband Kim, Master of the Cottesmore Hunt, dismissed Clarke before the couple had seen a doctor's report confirming their former gardener's condition.


Eggs/Birds

John Duncan Mair of Whitecraig Avenue, Whitecraig, Musselburgh, East Lothian was caught setting up lime twigs next to a live decoy to catch finches. When the police searched Mair's garden the next day they found sheds containing bullfinches and greenfinches. When Mair appeared at Haddington Sheriff's court on 20/8/03 he pleaded guilty to taking bullfinches using birdlime and was fined £400.

On 22/1/04 the head of America's largest and grandest museum network, the Smithsonian Institution, is to plead guilty to wildlife trafficking charges after endangered bird feathers were found in his private collection. Lawrence Small is not expected to lose his post or suffer any fine or jail after surrendering his collection to the government, the Smithsonian said. He is due to plead guilty to a "one-count, non-intentional misdemeanour violation".

On 19/2/04 Liverpool businessman Peter Tierney denied a charge of possessing more than 100 wild birds eggs. Tierney, founder of the Quiggins cultural and retail centre on Peters Lane, told Liverpool magistrates that the eggs had come into his possession accidentally. He said: " I am an antiques dealer and we bought a consignment of furniture. "The eggs were found in a drawer which had not been checked and we just put them out on display." Magistrates agreed to a review in April to decide if the matter should proceed. Tierney, 45, said: "These eggs were very old and in a cabinet on open display and had been there for more than two years."


Equine

In January 2004 John Lock (58) of Tydd St Giles, near Wisbech was been banned from having custody of equines for 25 years and ordered to pay £3,000 costs for neglecting five ponies to such an extent that they could barely walk. Lock pleaded guilty to causing the ponies unnecessary suffering and the magistrates also ordered him to carry out 180 hours community service. All the ponies were overweight and had swollen lips from eating the nettles in their field. Some also had rain scald on their bodies and conjunctivitis in their eyes. The good news is that the ponies have improved and have now been successfully rehomed.

A woman from the Shropshire border has been banned from owning dogs, horses and ponies after RSPCA officers found animals living in appalling and filthy conditions at her home. Roberta Mitchell of Wood Cottage, Bettisfield, near Ellesmere, was handed the two-year ban - suspended pending appeal - for 17 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to. During sentencing at Wrexham magistrates on 19/2/04, Mitchell was given 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay £600 costs. The defence immediately lodged an appeal - which could take up to a year to be completed. The probation service indicated it was also likely to suspend the 120 hour community punishment order.


Assorted

The first prison sentence in the UK for the sale of bushmeat was handed down by magistrates in north London on 6/1/04. Paulina Owusu Pepra was jailed for three months, after being convicted by Haringey magistrates of selling meat unfit for human consumption. The 23 counts on which Pepra was found guilty involved infringements of the Food Safety Act by selling unfit meat, including bushmeat.

Damien Penrose (18) admitted shooting and killing a swan, which is a protected species, with an air-rifle, was jailed for two months on 7/1/04. Magistrates in Swindon were told he tried to hide his action by throwing the carcass into a hedge, but he was seen by dog walkers.

Roger BakerA farmer is facing a jail sentence after plunging an animal health inspector and a vet into a pit of slurry. Roger Baker (61) was found guilty of attacking a trading standards officer and a Government vet on his land at Ventongimps, near Truro in Cornwall. On 23/1/04 at Taunton Crown Court the jury failed to reach a majority verdict on a second charge of making a threat to kill. The charge was instead left to lie on file at the request of counsel for the Crown. Baker who has convictions for animal cruelty spanning 30 years, denied attacking the officials and threatening to kill. He was released on bail pending a pre-sentence report. The court heard how Baker dragged the inspector across the yard and attempted to dunk him in the slurry - consisting of mud, animal faeces and urine. Also how Baker pulled the vet to the ground and dragged her into the liquid. With one hand on her face, he pushed her into the slurry so hard she was forced to hold her breath. On 1/3/04 Baker was jailed for two years.

John Markey (34) of Blackcastle Estate, Navan, Co.Meath warned he faces jail for possessing image of a child being sexually assaulted by "massive dogs". "The bestiality element concerns me very much. A little girl, massive dogs, it's disgusting." The Judge told Navan District Court on 4/2/04. He also said he intended to jail John Markey because he thought he would offend. Markey pleaded guilty in December 2002 to possessing child porn. The case was adjourned until 24/3/04.

The former boss of a West Yorkshire abattoir has escaped jail after he admitted breaking animal welfare laws. Bradford Crown Court heard on 6/2/04 how a sheep was treated inhumanely as it was prepared for halal slaughter at the Sunside Farm slaughterhouse in Denholme Gate, near Bradford. David Alan Halliwell (22) of Lower Moss Side Farm, off Kingsway, Rochdale, admitted three breaches of animal welfare regulations and was given a 160-hour community punishment order and told to pay £800 in costs. Shakil Aslam (24) of Sunside Farm, pleaded guilty to one breach. He received 40-hours community punishment, with £300 in costs. Both defendants had expressed remorse.

A Devon man who killed a swan with his bare hands in front of crowds by a river side has been jailed for three months. Michael Barnett (41) of Smythen Street, Exeter was left covered in blood after wringing the bird's neck and slamming it on to concrete. Barnett pleaded guilty at Exeter magistrates on 11/2/04 to intentionally killing the swan, an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Barnett pleaded guilty to failing to surrender to bail, for which he was jailed for 14 days consecutive to the original sentence.

Former American wrestling star Jake "The Snake" Roberts appeared in court to face charges that he starved his pet python to death. Texan Roberts, whose real name is Aurelian Smith Jr, is accused of causing unnecessary suffering to his Burmese python. Roberts (48) from White Horse Lane, London Colney, Hertfordshire, appeared at St Albans magistrates on 25/2/04 along with partner Valerie Burnham (59). The couple were released on bail to reappear before St Albans magistrates on 11/3/04.

Thousands of chickens perished amid soaring summer temperatures when they were packed into a transporter lorry for a 13-mile trip. Grampian Country Chickens (Fresh) Ltd, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to 2,486 chickens at Bury St Edmunds magistrates on 27/3/04. The chickens, which were on a truck containing 5,500, died while on a 13-mile journey when temperatures soared to 28°C. They were being transported from the Wild Rose Farm in Long Stratton to the Grampian processing plant in Eye. Suffolk County Council claimed four earlier journeys the same afternoon had seen around 1,370 chickens perish in the heat. The fifth load led to unnecessary suffering and death. Grampian Country Chickens (Fresh) Ltd were fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,196.

A farmer who used a shotgun to frighten away animal rights activists was "let off" by a judge on 26/3/04 with a written warning not to do it again. David Brian Davies (45) of Neuadd Deg farm near Manordeilo, Carmarthenshire found his puppy farm targeted by two men who used decoys to keep his sheep busy while they crept onto his farmland. Davies was alerted when his sheep scattered and he took out his father's shotgun. After challenging the activists he fired a shot into the air. When they did not stop he called the police and followed them in his car. He was granted a conditional discharge for 12 months at Swansea Crown Court. Davies admitted possessing a shotgun without a licence.

A pensioner who molested a pig has escaped jail. Thomas Leatham (72) from Windrush House, Willmont Street, Woolwich was spotted standing semi-naked behind a Saddleback sow. Southwark Crown Court heard on 3/4/04 that Leatham quickly crouched down behind the pig to obscure the view of a shocked mother and daughter, who ran away to call the police. Leatham admitted outraging public decency by committing a lewd act with the pig. The defendant, who has a wife in her 30s, admitted molesting the pig but denied having intercourse with the animal. He was sentenced him to 100 hours community punishment.


Farm Animals (Guardians Of The Land - My Arse!!!)

Part 389 of the Kirkham story - A farmer who sold a bogus cow to a local abattoir using false papers has been ordered to pay fines and court costs of more than £2,200. On 21/5/03 Leyland magistrates heard how Anthony Kirkham (58) of Tarporley, Cheshire had sold the cow for £346 to the abattoir in Bamber Bridge. But he was tripped up after staff realised that the cow's "chocolate-brown" colour was not right for the breed they had been sold. A check of the animal's paperwork quickly revealed that it had been given a bogus identity belonging to a cow that had died of pneumonia more than six months earlier. Magistrates even heard how just days before the sale, Kirkham had given the animal new eartags bearing the identification number of the dead beast. In mitigation Kirkham expressed his regret (MY ARSE) for what had happened and offered his full apologies to the court. He was fined £1600 and was ordered to pay costs of £648.21

A Cumbrian farmer has been banned from keeping sheep for life. Edward Burrow (39) of West Plain Farm, Flookburgh was found guilty of three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to sheep by Kendal magistrates on 2/1/04. He was also sentenced to 100 hours’ community rehabilitation order after he pleaded guilty to seven charges of failing to dispose of sheep carcasses at his farm.

On 13/1/04 a West Cumbrian sheep farmer has surrendered himself to police after more than three months on the run because a row over a footpath on his land. Thomas Ireland (48) of Whins Farm, Ennerdale, is now in custody at Durham jail, where he will spend two weeks for contempt of court. He went on the run to avoid imprisonment after repeatedly breaching an injunction preventing him from blocking footpath on his farm, which he maintains is not a right of way. A county court judge in Carlisle found him guilty of contempt of court in October after he failed to appear to answer any charges, and issued a committal order for 14 days. When the police raided his home they seized a number of firearms. They also revoked his gun license and charged him with possessing shotguns.

Part 412 of the Kirkham story - A farmer nearly ended up in prison after appealing against fines of more than £17,000 for breaching foot and mouth regulations. Liable for more than £21,000, including costs, Anthony Kirkham appealed before Chester Crown Court on 16/1/04, believing the penalty, which would have him paying £500 a month for the next three years, to be excessive. Kirkham realised part-way through proceedings he should withdraw his appeal when it became apparent things were taking a surprising turn. Kirkham pleaded guilty to three offences before Chester magistrates, asking for an additional 73 to be taken into account. The additional charge involved withholding records. The court court heard that Kirkham had a record of offences of violence, including robbery and assault, and had served time in prison. Kirkham was ordered to pay £600 costs on top of his original fines.

On 20/1/04 a judge has described as horrific a case in which a Kilkenny man dumped the stomachs of 41 dead cows on a roadside. Gerard Duncan (40) from Goodwin Gardens, Kells in Co Kilkenny was before Kilkenny District Court on two charges. The court heard that Duncan, who admitted the offences, had got the offal to feed greyhound pups he was looking after for other people. He said he would normally have fed nuts to the pups but he had got into cash flow problems last year. He adjourned sentencing to June pending a probation report.

A Westport farmer who was involved in an elaborate scam which defrauded the state of thousands of pounds through illegal cattle tagging was sentenced to two years in jail at Castlebar District Court in Westport On 22/1/04. John Kearns (40) of Owenwee, Westport had pleaded guilty to twenty sample charges before the court, nineteen related to possession of ear tags and one to possessing vicegrips, modified to remove cattle tags.

Effluent escaped from an underground tank at a dairy farm and polluted nearby rivers, leading to the deaths of more than 30,000 fish, Eden magistrates heard on 30/1/04. William Messenger and his son Richard, trading as Messers W Messenger of Howes Farm, Calthwaite, admitted causing polluting matter to enter a tributary. Magistrates fined each of them £1,000 and ordered the pair to pay outstanding costs of £3,627. These costs were made up of £2,160 for re-stocking the rivers and £1,467 in investigation and legal costs. Re-stocking was underway and the Messengers had already paid costs of £5,348.

On 3/2/04 John and Raymond Timperon of Barrock Side Farm, Carleton, Carlisle, were both given a 12-month discharge and ordered to pay £976.91 costs, for polluting the River Petteril. Dead fish were spotted near Carleton and Environment Agency officers found the water was polluted with farm effluent, which appeared to be coming from a pipe carrying discharge from the brothers' farm. The pipe was only supposed to carry clean, uncontaminated run-off, but an inspection found it was being contaminated from the overflow drain. Officers removed 14 bullhead, ten trout and one eel from the river.

On 3/2/04 at Carlisle magistrates David Coulthard of Chalkside Farm, Rosley, Wigton was fined £750 and ordered to pay £2,461.72 costs to the Environment Agency after pleading guilty to polluting a tributary. This included £500 to pay for restocking the tributary with healthy fish. The court heard a member of the public had called the agency to report seeing dead fish. An officer went to Green Quarries Bridge to investigate and noticed a strong smell of silage. He saw a tributary discharging what appeared to be farm effluent into the water and found there was a drainage ditch flowing from the direction of Chalkside Farm. Fisheries officers visited the area the same day and collected 700 dead stoneloach, 300 dead minnows, 190 dead brown trout and a dead eel.

John SavageA donkey found covered in scabs and bald patches and with a large open wound on her leg would have been in pain, Market Drayton magistrates heard on 8/2/04. John Savage of Factory Farm, Loppington, near Wem denies causing unnecessary suffering to a jenny donkey by omitting to provide the animal proper care and attention. The donkey - which he estimated was more than 20 years old - had a severely matted coat, grazes, which had scabbed over, and bald patches. The trial resumes on 2/3/04.

A family-run abattoir broke the rules in its treatment of cattle facing imminent slaughter, a court heard. Burnley magistrates were told on 11/3/04 how nine bulls were left without water to drink after the butts ran dry at Rossendale Wholesale Meat Co Ltd's premises at Whitewell Bottom. Two more were squashed into a pen which was too small. Welfare regulations state animals should have water, although no food, in the 12 hours before they are killed. They should also be able to stand up, lie down and move around in a pen without difficulty. The court was told it was accepted that a manager at the plant, which was said to have invested almost a quarter of a million pounds in complying with regulations, failed to fill up the bulls' water butts as regularly as he should have. The company, care of Renee Ashworth, Black Pische Slaughter House, which processes up to 1,000 animals a week, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £647 costs. The firm, said to be in financial difficulty, is already paying off a fine at £300 a month after a previous conviction from last July when the abattoir failed to give animals access to water. The company admitted three allegations of failing to comply with a requirement of the Welfare of Animals regulations last May 14 and a further count last July 24, in a prosecution brought by DEFRA.

A farmer will be allowed to continue rearing animals despite admitting six charges of crueltyJeannette Day and failing to look after her sheep properly. When RSPCA inspectors examined 75 sheep belonging to Jeannette Day (55) of Burgess Farm, Walkden, the animals were suffering from sheep scab disease and four had died from exposure after losing clumps of wool. Day admitted four charges of causing suffering to the livestock and two of breaching welfare codes, at Salford magistrates on 19/2/04. Charges against her husband Derek Day (77) were withdrawn after Mrs Day said the care of the sheep was her sole responsibility. Out of the 75 sheep in the field, 71 were suffering from sheep scab disease, which is caused by an infestation of parasitic mites. The dead sheep had lost between 40 per cent and 80 per cent of their wool. Jeannette Day received a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £2,910 in costs.


Domestic

Two burglars who beheaded a cat and cooked a live mouse in a microwave have been jailed for three years each. Steven Browitt (35) of Quarry Place, Scholes, and Andrew Maloney (25) of Engineer Street, Higher Ince used a blunt axe to behead Greta, a blind 19-year-old tortoiseshell cat, during a break-in in Wigan. They left her severed head on a living room coffee table for owner to find when he returned home. Browitt and Maloney killed the mouse by putting it in the microwave along with some vegetables. The pair, who also ransacked the house, broke windows and smeared food around the kitchen, admitted burglary with intent to cause criminal damage at an earlier hearing. They were each sentenced to three years imprisonment when they appeared at Bolton Crown Court on 9/1/04.

On 11/11/03 Glyndwr Jones (53) and his wife Margaret (47) were been banned from running an informal animal rescue centre at their home. Both were found guilty at Swansea Glyndwr Jones and wife Margaretmagistrates of 32 counts of causing animals unnecessary suffering. Inspectors from the RSPCA discovered 168 animals at their home in Llanerch Crescent - a three-bedroomed home they also shared with four of their children. Margaret Jones had been taking in unwanted animals for six years, although both she and her husband insisted he was not actively involved in the project. At the time of the offences a year ago, they were caring for 56 cats, four dogs, 26 reptiles, 22 rabbits, 40 small mammals, nine ferrets, 10 tarantulas and an axolotyl (small lizard). Both were given a conditional discharge for each offence and disqualified for life from keeping any animal. However, the district judge presiding over the case made an exception - allowing them to keep one dog, three cats and one rabbit each as pets. They were also told they have to pay £300 costs. The couple have vowed to appeal against the sentence.

Roberta MitchellOn 14/1/04 Roberta Mitchell (58) of Wood Cottage, Bettisfield, near Ellesmere was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to dozens of dogs and two ponies. was found guilty of 17 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the animals. At Flint magistrates they adjourned sentencing for a pre-sentence report until 19/2 04 at Wrexham magistrates. The court heard how the RSPCA seized more than 30 dogs from Mitchell's home following a visit by RSPCA officers, health officials and police.

A pensioner who threw a puppy from a sixth floor flat after his wife asked him to find it a new home has been banned from owning pets for life. George Smart (74) of Tunbridge Street, central London was branded callous and cruel by Highbury Corner magistrates on 19/1/04 after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to the young dog. He received a two month suspended prison sentence. The dog died when she plunged more than 100ft to the ground after being thrown off the balcony of Smart's then apartment in Camden. Smart admitted one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The pet columnist of The Hounslow Chronicle was investigated by the RSPCA after allegations of animal cruelty. Daphne Rix (72), a columnist for the paper and founder of a pets charity People and Pets, was taken into custody by police, after a raid on her home in Ouseley Road, Wraysbury on 19/2/04.

Peter Bebbington (18) was jailed on 27/2/04 after killing his girlfriend’s cat, slicing off its paws and giving them to her, saying they would “bring her luck”. Bebbington went berserk after a row. He waited until Michelle Tomkinson was out and beat the pet cat to death. He shoved another cat into a washing machine. Michelle returned home in Crewe in time to save it, but was slammed against a wall by Bebbington. He then tied a noose around the neck of the cat and said: “You have been found guilty and will be hung.” He cut the paws off, ate a pizza and refused to allow Michelle to leave until the next day, when she raised the alarm. Chester Crown Court heard Bebbington had become “desensitised” while working in an abattoir. Bebbington was handed eight months in a young offenders’ institute after admitting animal cruelty and a further 12 months for affray.

A married police couple have been found guilty of a cruelty charge against their pet cat. BeverleyBeverley and Derek Lodge (42) and Derek Lodge (42) denied causing unnecessary suffering to their 15-year-old cat by failing to take him to see a vet. When the RSPCA found him after a report by a neighbour the cat was almost half its ideal weight. His right eye had shrunk into its skull owing to an untreated tumour and the animal could not walk straight because of a central nervous system disorder. The couple, both serving officers with Lancashire Police live in Shaws Road, Southport. Sadly, the cat was put down as was in the last stages of a terminal disease. On 4/3/04 Magistrates at Wigan gave the couple a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered them to pay £1,000 between them towards costs. A Lancashire Police spokesman said no decision had been made on disciplinary action against the couple.

A couple who stuffed scores of dead exotic animals - including three crocodiles - into their home freezer were jailed on 10/3/04. Eric Dowers (42) and his wife Janice (38) of Tydd St Giles near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, were given 35-day jail sentences and banned for life from keeping animals after a hearing before magistrates in Wisbech. Magistrates were told RSPCA inspectors had found more than 80 dead exotic animals stuffed into a defunct freezer or floating in tanks of putrid water. A further 40 live animals were found alongside them, living in appalling conditions. Among the dead animals were three crocodiles, 63 turtles and tortoises, an iguana, two polecats and wild rats and snakes. The Dowers admitted 24 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 41 animals. Live animals found suffering at the house included four tortoises, five turtles, a hawk, two rat snakes, a python, two eagle owls, a kestrel, two rabbits, and seven domestic ducks.

William SloaneA pensioner who lied about shooting a cat with an air rifle was caught out when the RSPCA called in a ballistics expert. William Sloane (66) from Highfield Place, Prestwich, tried to hide his gun when police arrived and denied shooting his neighbour's cat. But he later admitted shooting the five-year-old cat when the ballistics expert said a pellet recovered from the cat's hind leg could only have come from his gun. At Manchester magistrates on 19/3/04 Sloane was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs and £100 compensation. The good news is that the cat has now made a good recovery.

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