CRUNCHY'S VERDICT: Six guilty of ‘appalling’ neglect at rescue centre

CRUNCHY'S VERDICT: Six guilty of ‘appalling’ neglect at rescue centre

Angela Russell

Frederick Russell

Robert Russell

Louise Russell

Kirsty Russell

Abigail McHugh

First published in News Banbury Cake: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

A JUDGE has found six people guilty of running “a rescue centre from which animals needed to be rescued”.

Yesterday District Judge Tim Pattinson delivered a damning verdict on the “absolutely appalling” conditions at Crunchy’s Animal Rescue.

Angela Russell, her father, three children and niece were all convicted of 16 counts of animal welfare offences in relation to the Longworth centre.

The 44-year-old was said by District Judge Pattinson to be the “driving force” behind Crunchy’s, who had told “outrageous” and “malicious” lies during the trial.

Inspectors from the RSPCA raided the centre over a weekend in January last year and seized 95 animals, at least 50 of which were suffering from neglect.

District Judge Pattinson said the animals were living in “a sea of mud and faeces containing shocking and dangerous hazards”.

They included ponies, dogs, rabbits, goats, ducks, chickens, pigs and turkeys, which the court heard also had little or no food or clean water.

During the trial the prosecution described how animals had been found in areas containing rubbish, bundles of barbed wire, metal frames from burned mattresses and rusting cars.

RSPCA inspectors said the body of a dead horse was even discovered on the ground, covered by the back of a pick-up truck.

During the three-week trial at Bicester Magistrates’ Court, Angela Russell claimed the inspectors had caused the dreadful conditions themselves.

District Judge Pattinson said: “Angela alleged that RSPCA officers had deliberately spread faeces and mud in kennels and had overturned water bowls.

“They had also deliberately created hazards which presented a danger to the equines.”

But he concluded: “I find the allegations of fabrication and bias to be outrageous, malicious and without any substance whatsoever.”

Angela Russell, 44, her father Frederick Russell, 81, her children Robert, Louise and Kirsty Russell, 24, 22 and 20, all of Faringdon Road, Longworth, as well as her niece, Abigail McHugh, 20, of Pendennis Road, Swindon, were found guilty of all 16 charges.

The District Judge cleared her brother Peter Russell, 40, and carer, Daniel Bunyan, 24, of The Court, Abingdon, of all charges.

Inspector Kirsty Withnall, who led the RSPCA operation, said: “I’m delighted with the verdict and very pleased with the outcome.

“The conditions at Crunchy’s were horrific – they were taking people’s money but not providing anything of the services they promised.”

District Judge Pattinson said he would sentence the six defendants on Wednesday, July 24, adding that the starting point would be “a sentence of imprisonment”.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum fine for animal cruelty and welfare offences is £20,000. The maximum term of imprisonment for offences is six months.

THE CHARGES

Angela, Frederick, Robert, Louise and Kirsty Russell, all of Faringdon Road, Longworth, and Abigail McHugh were found guilty of:

1 Causing unnecessary suffering to a male golden retriever dog by failing to provide adequate nutrition between December 20, 2011 and January 20, 2012.

2 Causing unnecessary suffering to the same male golden retriever dog by failing to provide adequate parasitic control between the same dates.

3 Causing unnecessary suffering to a male brindle mastiff dog by failing to provide veterinary care regarding multiple toe infections between January 17 and 20, 2012.

4 Causing unnecessary suffering to the same male brindle mastiff dog by failing to provide adequate nutrition between 17 and 20 January 2012.

5 Causing unnecessary suffering to a black female German Shepherd type dog by failing to provide veterinary care regarding a skin condition between December 20, 2011, and January 20, 2012.

6 Causing unnecessary suffering to a female Staffordshire bull terrier type dog by failing to provide veterinary care regarding a skin condition between December 20, 2011 and January 20, 2012.

7 Causing unnecessary suffering to the same female Staffordshire bull terrier dog by confining the animal in a small wire mesh cage open to the elements and cold with inadequate provision of food and water between December 20, 2011 and January 20, 2012.

8 Causing unnecessary suffering to a black and white female Shih-tzu dog by failing to provide veterinary care in respect of an eye condition between December 20, 2011 and January 20, 2012.

9 Causing unnecessary suffering to four equines by failing to provide adequate farriery and foot care in respect of overgrown hooves between December 20, 2011 and January 20, 2012.

10 Causing unnecessary suffering to a white female duck by failing to provide veterinary care in respect of a fractured femur contrary to s.4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, between January 13 and 20, 2012.

11 Causing unnecessary suffering to a turkey by failing to provide veterinary care in respect of lameness, pain and inflammation in the legs between January 13 and 20, 2012.

12 Confining 16 dogs in 11 kennels which were malodorous and filthy with faeces and urine with inadequate dry lying areas and bedding and without provision of clean fresh water and as such failing to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of the animals were met between January 6 and 20, 2012.

13 Accommodating five equines inadequately in areas excessively muddy, filthy with inadequate dry lying areas and bedding with access to hazardous items and inadequate access to grazing and access only to dirty water and as such failing to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of the animals were met between January 6 and 20, 2012.

14 Confining 13 rabbits in an overcrowded manner in ramshackle hutches which were wet and dirty with accumulated urine and faeces with inadequate food and bedding and no water and as such failing to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of the animals were met between January 6 and 20, 2012.

15 Confining four puppies in a caravan in which space was restricted due to accumulated rubbish and hazardous items and which was dirty with no water, bedding or heat source and as such failing to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of the animals were met between January 6 and 20, 2012.

16 Confining two goats in a horse box (trailer) which was knee deep in faeces and without food or water, the trailer being damaged and therefore hazardous to the animals and failing to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of the animals were met between January 6 and 20, 2012.

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