Telford puppy farm trio facing jail after guilty verdicts
Three fraudsters who ran a Telford puppy farm which sold dogs that died and needed veterinary care are facing jail.
Betty Chanelle Burton, 34, Jeff James McDonagh, 37, and Luke Gillman, 27, were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud after they farmed the puppies and offered them for sale as home-bred.
It came after a police and RSPCA raid on McDonagh Lodge in Arleston Brook, Telford in November 2018, which found 55 dogs on the premises.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard earlier in the trial that the trio sold 42 dogs in the Telford area, with 15 of them dying and the rest needing care from a vet.
Dogs were found to have stomach problems, parasites, skin conditions, and dirty coats at the site, and a welfare expert said there would have been "no way" they would be granted a breeding license.
The court also heard that the dogs were linked to a Manchester-based puppy farming operation which sold 1,439 puppies for more than £250,000 over three years.
The jury was shown body-worn video footage from an RSPCA inspector who visited McDonagh Lodge.
It showed a variety of dogs including Dachshunds and King Charles Spaniels, with the inspector heard to be commenting on some of their dirty coats, mangy skin and irritated ears.
The footage also showed items at the property including a log burner, a wicker basket and a bowl, with the inspector pointing out similar items seen in some online adverts for puppies.
Burton burst into tears and wailed loudly from the dock after the jury gave their verdicts while McDonagh stood stony-faced. The couple, who have two children, were present throughout the trial, while co-defendant Gillman was tried in his absence.
Their criminal wrongdoing came to light when several people who bought dogs from Burton and McDonagh contacted the RSPCA worried about the health of puppies they bought or were being offered for sale through adverts.
Investigations initially centred on addresses in Manchester and telephones to which Burton and McDonagh had connections. Gillam operated as their employee, living in a caravan at their home.
Judge Peter Barrie deferred their sentence for reports after Burton's defence counsel asked for them to be given time to organise childcare and get their affairs in order ahead of a likely jail term.
Judge Barrie told them: "I cannot tell you just now when it is that you will return for sentence. I've asked the probation service for reports on you. It is in your interests to co-operate with them."
Burton, McDonagh and Gillman, all of Arleston Brook, Telford, were granted them bail until their sentencing date.
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