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Shrewsbury takeaway worker killed two kittens and abused two others

By Rory Smith | Shrewsbury | Crime | Published:

A takeaway worker from Shrewsbury killed two kittens and inflicted months of abuse on two others while his wife failed to react to the ongoing cruelty, a court heard.

Steven and Charlotte To

Between August 2018 and March 2019, Steven To, 27, and his wife Charlotte, 28, inflicted abuse which RSPCA veterinarian Dr David Martin said was the worst he had seen in his 22 years of practice.

Telford Magistrates Court heard yesterday how eight-week-old kittens Jin and Sun, and two-month-old pets Moon and Mew, suffered seizures, broken bones, infections, hair and skin loss, multiple amputations and tail lacerations which left one "hanging on by a thread".

Steven To pleaded guilty to three animal cruelty charges relating to harming the cats, and Charlotte To pleaded guilty to four charges of failing to provide a safe environment and veterinary care.

Prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, Sara Pratt, said: "The defendants lived together with their kittens in a flat in Shrewsbury.

"Over the period of August 2018 and March 2019, they acquired a total of four kittens, two of which were killed while in the care of the defendants, as a result of the actions of Steven To – Jin was almost 12 weeks old and Mew was just five months old at the time of their deaths."

Steven To

The court heard Jin and Sun were registered at Animal Trusts Vets and deemed healthy in August 2018, before Moon and Mew were registered at a different practice, Copthorne Veterinary Clinic, in November 2018.

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Ms Pratt added: "On September 14, 2018, a phone call was made to Animal Trust Vets reporting that Jin had been playing, knocked over some recycling, started having a seizure and died.

"On September 21, Sun was anaesthetised and X-rays revealed a fresh fracture to her right tibia."

The court heard in October 2018, Sun was taken to the vets with two "kinks" in her tail, before returning three days later with it "hanging off".

The defendants, of Theatre Royal Apartments in Shoplatch, bought Moon and Mew in November 2018, before Sun was taken to the vets again with hair and skin loss.

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Mew then suffered an injury to her chin where the skin had become detached from her jaw bone and required surgery, the court heard.

Charlotte To

Ms Pratt said: "Just seven days after surgery to her avulsed chin, Mew was returned to Copthorne Vets with an extreme fracture dislocation midway down the tail – all tendons had been ripped."

Mew was found dead on the kitchen floor days after returning from the vets following a tail amputation.

The court heard that an RSPCA post mortem found evidence of blunt trauma to the right side of the cat's thorax and neck, as well as evidence that the cat had lost blood externally through the nose.

The court then heard how in February 2019, Moon was taken to Abbey Veterinary Centre starved, and again with a leg fracture in March.

Following concerns raised by the veterinary practices and the RSPCA, later that month Moon and Sun were seized by police and a full investigation was launched.

A report by Dr Martin stated that it was "clear" all four cats sustained "serious injuries" and that two died from "traumatic incidents".

Steven To and Charlotte To

He added: "It is exceptionally unusual to have such a significant incidence of serious trauma in four cats over such a short period of time, to the extent that in 22 years of veterinary practice, I have never seen of heard of such a high incidence of serious injury."

Steven To was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours of unpaid work, 25 days rehabilitation, a lifetime ban on keeping animals and was ordered to pay £5,000 court costs, more than £3,500 in vets' fees and a £122 surcharge.

Charlotte To was given a 12-month community order, with 25 days rehabilitation, 40 hours of unpaid work, a seven-year ban on owning animals and was ordered to pay £390 costs.

District Judge Kevin Grego said there was "no doubt" a lifetime ban was necessary for Mr To, and that Mrs To should not have "covered her eyes" to the ongoing abuse.

He said: "The penny must have dropped after a short period of time. She [Mrs To] either should have got those animals out of the house or at the very least ensured it wasn't going to happen again."

Judge Grego added: "Animal cruelty is incisive of a mindset that's corrosive and damaging – that's what makes this so serious.

"There should be no doubt the animals that died and suffered did so as a result of deliberate cruelty from you, Steven.

"That cruelty and death could have been avoided if you, Charlotte, didn't frankly cover your eyes and accept what your husband told you when you knew what you were being told was unsustainable."

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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