Nicholas Grooby (22) of Paradise Lane, Old Dolby, Leicestershire (an unpaid terrierman for South Nottingham Foxhounds), Gary Pearson (34) of Souldern Way, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, David William Edwards (48) of Roughcoat Lane, Cavershall, Stoke-on-Trent and Mark John Hulme (33) of Ash Grove, Rode Heath, Stoke-on-Trent were all found guilty by Nottingham Magistrates on 15/1/97 of attempting to take a badger, digging for badgers and interfering with a badger sett, after being caught on 16/11/95. The court heard how they were spotted by a local gamekeeper who had watched them digging at a well known badger sett. One of them had a dog locator scanner while another was poking a large metal spike into the ground. On 20/2/97 they were all sentenced to four months for attempting to take a badger, two months for digging for badgers and two months for interfering with a badger sett. All sentences are to run concurrently. They were also banned from keeping animals for 5 years. All released on bail pending an appeal due in April/May.
Richard Nicholls of Apple Acre, Crickham, near Wedmore, Somerset was fined £2,000 by Bridgwater magistrates on 4/12/96 for breaching animal health regulations at the height of the BSE crisis. Magistrates heard how Nicholls is a part-time farmer, relief milker and master of the Magian Mink Hounds (what a busy man!). He admitted three offences under the Animal Heath Act of 1981 and Food Safety Act of 1990. Nicholls told the court how for many years he had collected fallen stock which was unfit for human consumption from local farmers to feed to his pack of hounds. Apparently his helper at the time was inexperienced when his farm was overwhelmed with cattle carcasses during the BSE crisis.
Alan Owen (48) of Glandwr Gwynfryn, Llanbedr, Gwynedd has lost his appeal for the revocation of his firearms licence. Owen, who is the Master/Huntsman of the Nantcol Valley Foxhounds, first appeared in court in March 1996 after he was accused of punching, kicking and threatening a farming neighbour (what, not a sab!). The court was told how Owen had threatened his neighbour with a knife after the had shot and wounded a hound which was trespassing in a field of sheep. At the time he admitted common assault, but denied the knife threat. The court ordered that his firearms certificate be taken away. In September 1996 he appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court to appeal against the revocation of his firearms certificate. The court heard he possessed a shotgun, but not used it since he was twelve, two rifles and a handgun. The local police opposed the appeal on the grounds that he was, in their opinion ‘not a fit person to possess firearms’. (In November 1993 Owen was convicted of unnecessary suffering to his pet lurcher by Blaenau Ffestiniog magistrates, he was fined £450 and had to pay costs of £2,227, he was also banned from keeping dogs for a year).
On 31/12/96 a gamekeeper who shot dead a man he found trying to steal his car was jailed for four months and had his guns seized and certificates cancelled after he admitted keeping more guns than the firearms certificates permitted. Martin Wise (35) of Hildenborough, Kent admitted possessing a Webley revolver, a Spanish single-barrel shotgun and 253 rounds of ammunition not covered under the certificates. Earlier this year he was cleared of murder and manslaughter. Wise said that he did not deliberately fire an automatic pistol at Matthew Hodge (20), whom he caught trying to steal his car outside his home in August last year. He said the gun went off after he cocked it to warn Hodge. Sevenoaks magistrates were told that Wise faced financial ruin and that, by taking away his shotgun certificate, they would be taking away his livelihood. At the time of his arrest, police found 23 weapons at his home and at his mother’s house. Gordon Luckhurst, for the defence, said “His attitude to firearms should have been more strict.” Both unlicensed weapons were found at his home after the shooting, although his licence stipulated that he should keep his weapons securely locked in a steel cabinet at his parents’ home half a mile away. Ammunition was also found throughout his council house, where he lived with his wife, and three sons. Two rounds were found tucked inside a packet of cereal.
In November 1996 Darren Pratt of Salle Park Estate, Norfolk pleaded guilty to illegally poisoning foxes. Swaffham magistrates were told that Pratt, who is a gamekeeper on the estate, admitted to laying sodium cyanide (Cymag) at a fox earth which was located near to a public footpath. Police went to the estate after a pair of passing walkers found the body of a dead vixen. They found the earth had been blocked with bags and sodium cyanide could be seen around the earth. The court also heard how the Cymag cannister had not been disposed of properly and two garages used to store lethal chemicals were left unlocked. Pratt was fined £550 and ordered to pay costs of £350.
Gamekeeper Adrian Littler from Essex was found guilty of ‘asphyxiating three fox cubs with intent to cause suffering’. The offence took place at Coggeshall around the end of May 1996, the foxes were gassed with cyanide, Littler claimed he did not know the gassing of foxes was illegal. On 23/1/97 Witham magistrates fined him £350 and they ordered him to pay costs of £150.
Edward Scarrot (56) from Warwickshire was caught at Leafield Farm, Fairford, Gloucestershire on 17/11/96 taking part in hare coursing. Scarrot, who came with a group of people, told the police when caught he believed that hare coursing was perfectly legal, but they were then told it was private land. Scarrot pleaded guilty to a charge of trespass in pursuit of game on 23/1/97. The magistrates fined him £30 and he was ordered to pay £10 costs. The case against four others was adjourned until 1/4/97.
Two illegal hare coursers were caught by a gamekeeper at Winterbourne Gunner, near Salisbury on 6/10/96. P. Nurdinand C. Johnson both from Poole, Dorset were part of a group of seven coursers seen by a local gamekeeper who phoned the police. When the police arrived the gamekeeper, John Nicholls, identified two men who he had seen releasing dogs on to hares. Both pleaded not guilty and claimed they were just walking their dogs. However, they were both found guilty by magistrates of trespass in pursuit of game. One was fined £100 and the other £50. Charles Blanning of the National Coursing Club said “The NCC totally condemns illegal coursing” he also said “There is no connection between the organised ‘sport’ of greyhound coursing – such as the Waterloo Cup – and illegal poaching with long dogs”. Yeah right!
Dr Andrew Dixon (31) of The Maltings House, Allendale, Northumberland and Andrew Lawerence (35) of Tredegar, Gwent appeared before Salisbury magistrates on 21/1/97 and both pleaded not guilty to charges of disturbing nests of wild birds. The case came to court following a nationwide operation targeting illegal egg-collection. The operation, code-named Avocet, was launched after a raid in July 1994 on a meeting of the Jourdian Society, whose members are interested in birds eggs. Dixon faces nine allegations, and is also charged with seven alternative offences of attempting to disturb. Lawerence faces five offences of disturbing wild birds and one charge of attempting to disturb. (See Howl 62, page 19 for other Operation Avocet convictions).
On 8/5/97 Leonard Durman-Walters (57) of Hyndlee, Bonchester, Scotland will stand trial for bird cruelty charges. Durman-Walters of the Scottish Academy of Falconry appeared before Jedburgh Sheriff Court on 10/4/97 accused of releasing a live cock pheasant at Falside on 18/9/96, which was taken and killed by a trained bird of prey under his control. He is also accused of causing unnecessary suffering and terror on the same day to a captive tethered pigeon, by using it as a live lure to attract birds of prey.
Most people may not have heard about Anthony Probert (58) of Woodview, Gilwern, Abergavenny, Gwent who was fined £500 and ordered to pay £700 costs by Pontypool magistrates. Probert was found guilty of unnecessary suffering to a horse called Target. The court was told how Target was seized by the police in 1995 and then put into RSPCA care. Target has since made a full recovery on a sanctuary. However after the court case Probert offered to buy Target off the sanctuary for £240, they of course refused. This case is now in the hands of the courts once again.
Leigh-Ann Jeffries (39) from Bath was jailed for three months and banned from keeping animals for life by Bath magistrates on 5/3/97. Jeffries who is a leading horse breeder left her own horses to starve in squalor. Fifteen-year-old Frisbee and four-year-old Heddle were weeks away from death when the RSPCA found them emaciated in a dingy stable on a farm near Bath with no food and a bucket of ‘black, swamp-like’ water.
A 16-year-old youth also appeared in court on 23/1/97 this time at Great Yarmouth magistrates. Following the case he was found guilty of kicking, beating and stabbing a hedgehog. He was ordered to do 120 hours community service and made to pay £50 costs.
Richard Smith (20) and Paul West (20) both from Winchester were charged with kicking and burning a hedgehog in September 1996. The court heard how a neighbour had called the police after she had seen the two men use an aerosol as a blowtorch to set fire to the hedgehog, which they then kicked around the garden like a football. Winchester magistrates found them both guilty and remanded them for pre-sentence reports.
On the 14/11/96 Alfred Charles Grant of Top Farm, Grandborough Fields, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to six charges of causing unnecessary pain and distress to animals and failing to dispose of carcasses. Rugby magistrates were told that officers from the Warwickshire Trading Standards Department had visited the farm on three different occasions. On the first visit the officers were unhappy with the conditions of the animals and offered Grant some advice to improve them. During that visit the officers found a dead calf. On the second visit they found seven dead sheep, and three weeks later during their third visit they found the carcasses of 12 sheep. The court fined him £200 for causing unnecessary pain and distress and two fines of £500 for failing to care for animals properly. He also received three conditional discharges for two years for failing to dispose of animal carcasses on his farm. The courts ordered him to pay costs of £1,400. After the trial Michael Jarvis, who had defended Grant, said “Mr Grant has been a genuine and enthusiastic farmer with a genuine care for his animals. He still regards himself as a good farmer”.
Following an incident at Ashford market on 2/7/96 Peter Helesfay of Duckies Farm, Smarden, Kent pleaded guilty to unlawful transport of a sheep which was unfit. Animal welfare supporters were in attendance at Ashford market when Helesfay arrived with three sheep which were due to be sold for slaughter. They alerted a Ministry of Agriculture vet, who found the sheep had ‘toxic mastitis’ and was discharging pus from a hole in its udder. The sheep was humanely put down at the market. Helesfay was fined £120 with £60 costs.
Following a tip-off on 15/2/97, RSPCA officials inspected Winters Farm Pig Unit, near Canterbury, Kent. They discovered 167 dead animals and 232 starving. Police then arrested farmer Richard Marshall of Laurel Farm, Lower Houston, Sittingbourne, Kent. An RSPCA spokesperson said “It is probably the most serious and dreadful case of suspected animal cruelty we have ever encountered in the South-East”.
When an RSPCA officer was called to an allotment belonging to John Daniels of Mill Lane, Woodley, Stockport, Cheshire she found 34 hens (mostly Rhode Island Reds) crammed into a pen 5ft square and 20 more hens in another coop. “They were in very cramped conditions, unable to stretch their wings, in feaces up to an inch thick”, “They were very dirty and very smelly and in very poor condition” claimed the RSPCA official. Daniels was originally summoned to appear before Stockport magistrates on 27 charges, but a number were withdrawn after he pleaded guilty to 18 charges of unnecessary suffering to hens. On the 28/2/97 he was given a three year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs and £100 vet’s fees and was banned from keeping poultry and domestic fowl for three years. The birds have now been rehomed and are recovering well on a farm.
Samantha Plant (22) of Carleton Street, Colne, Lancashire and Nicholas Brennan (21) of Mayfield Road, Brierfield, Lancashire, both admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal at Burnley magistrates and were sentenced to three months each. The court were told that they had strangled one kitten and stamped on the other after they had soiled a pile of children’s cloths. Police saw Plant and Brennan “laughing and joking” when they found the body of one kitten. Five minutes later, Brennan was seen carrying the second dead kitten by its legs. Both were said to be drunk and Plant was splattered with blood. Following an appeal at Burnley Crown Court the Judge cut Plants sentence to one month and Brennans to two months. Plant was then released, as she had already served two weeks, the equivalent to a months sentence. They were also banned from keeping animals for five years.
On 14/1/97 Barry Johnson (41) of Beech Hill, Wigan admitted causing unnecessary suffering to an animal after leaving a puppy with a broken leg. He was given a conditional discharge, ordered to pay £200 costs and banned from keeping animals for 10 years. A warrant was also issued for the arrest of his wife Annette (31).
Yet another sad case Paul Bryan (24) of Dunkerley Avenue, Failsworth, near Manchester was jailed for 28 days by Oldham magistrates after admitting cruelty to an animal. Magistrates heard how Bryan had kicked a friends six-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier in the head and ribs while wearing steel toe-capped boots. The dog, Misty, died soon after. He was banned from keeping a dog for life but was not ordered to pay any costs or compensation!
Case 1. – On 28/8/96 contractors were bulldozing the back garden of Andrew Debidin (42) of Grazeley Road, Three Mile Cross, Berkshire when they came across about a dozen oil drums crammed full with the remains of animals. Some of the drums are believed to have contained just the entrails of dogs. It also appeared many of the dogs had been skinned. A wagon driver who took the drums to a landfill site said “As they were being dumped, one burst open and splattered all over the place. There were some whole dogs and bits of others. It was absolutely disgusting. I never want to see anything like that again”. The neighbours had complained for over five years about the din and smell caused by dozens of German Shepherds he kept. Eventually after flouting several noise abatement orders from Wokingham District Council, he was banned from keeping dogs.
Case 2. – On 3/1/97 Debidin now of Chesterfield Road, Shuttlewood, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire appeared before Reading Crown Court. At a previous hearing he admitted misleading buyers of his puppies by claiming they were registered with the Kennel Club – even though they had already banned him. Berkshires Trading Standards department highlighted four cases where owners had paid several hundred pounds for a pup after being assured that they had the official documentation. However, they later discovered the pups were not registered because of his existing ban. Debidin admitted one charge of giving a false trade description and three charges of making a false statement. He also asked for two similar offences during a two-and-a-half month period last year to be taken into consideration. He was given a conditional discharge.
Case 3. – Yet again he appeared before Reading Crown Court. On 6/1/97 he was convicted of assault and received a 12 month suspended sentence. This was for an incident in which he attacked two people with a machete while walking his dogs on university land in 1995. Debidin now living in Inverness, Scotland had been ordered to do 100 hours community service but the sentence was revoked after he failed to do any of the work.
Jennifer Bosson (also known as Mrs Garbutt) (49) of Whitegates Farm, South Hanningfield Road, Rettendon, near Chelmsford, Essex appeared before Chelmsford magistrates on 20/2/97. At a previous hearing she had admitted 10 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs. The court heard that following a visit by the police to her home on 4/7/96 they found 10 dogs in filthy, cramped quarters without food and water. They also found two dead guinea pigs and seven dead dogs, one of which was thought to have been dead for over a year. The dogs that were alive suffered from bad teeth, severe weight loss, badly matted coats, eye infections and fleas. Floors were covered with compacted hair and faeces. Bosson, who was a dog judge and exhibitor, was jailed for four months and banned from keeping animals for the rest of her life. During the court case her solicitor John Bacon said “She had been ostracised by many of her former friends and had become a leper in her own community and in the dog world”.
When Norman Inchley of Glen Parva, Leicestershire was not invited to his neighbours barbecue he kicked their cat to death. Leicester magistrates heard on 20/3/97 how he snatched the pedigree Persian chinchilla cat from the garden fence and drop-kicked it 6ft into the air like a rugby ball. The cats owners returned home to find the cat dead in their garden. Inchley was found guilty of cruelty and ordered to pay £270 compensation.
Boxer Owen Harkin (25) was fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £600 by Ellersmere magistrates on 3/4/97. Harkin was found guilty of biting the head off a live hamster which belonged to his girlfriend’s cousin.