South East Wales

Eric Buckley, guilty of animal cruelty, is jailed

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Media captionInside the Buckley's cellar. Footage courtesy of Sky One

A 56-year-old man has been jailed for 12 weeks after being convicted of animal cruelty.

Eric Buckley was also banned at Pontypridd Magistrates' Court from keeping animals for life.

Last month he and his wife Doreen were convicted of animal cruelty, including keeping a pony and goats in their cellar, and breaching previous bans.

The couple, who were living in a former pub in Gilfach Goch, had 24 animals in their cellar, the court was told.

The court heard it was a case of prolonged neglect and the animals had been confiscated.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Buckley earlier on Friday after he initially failed to appear for sentencing.

Image caption The pony found in the Buckleys' cellar

His 46-year-old wife had been taken to hospital suffering from chest pains. Her sentencing was adjourned for a week.

They had admitted five charges of causing unnecessary suffering and two for breaching banning orders.

RSPCA inspectors told last month's hearing at Pontypridd Magistrates' Court that conditions were some of the worst they had ever seen.

They had already been banned from keeping dogs for 10 years due to animal welfare breaches in 1993.

After more serious breaches in 1995 both were banned from keeping all animals for life.

Monique McKevitt, for Buckley, told the court on Friday the couple had been on the way to court when Mrs Buckley suffered either an angina or a heart attack.

She said she talked to Buckley on the phone that morning while he was outside a hospital accident and emergency unit.

"She was taken in an ambulance this morning to the Royal Gwent Hospital (Newport)," she told the court.

"It is a possible heart attack, a potentially life-threatening condition, and he is extremely worried about her."

But District judge Jill Watkins said: "Apart from the obvious bond between husband and wife, there is no real reason why he should not answer bail."

The couple previously appeared before magistrates in Kingston upon Thames, where they were living at the time.

RSPCA inspector Nicola Johnston said it was "beyond anything" she had seen before, after finding nine geese, two goats, a pony, as well as 11 dogs and a cat at the property in June 2010.

The charges the couple faced related in particular to four dogs which were found to be suffering flea infestations, ear infections and oral disease.

At one point up to 13 retired racing greyhounds had the run of the property, which they used as a toilet.

Most though were kept in an unlit cellar, which was almost an inch deep in animal waste.

Ms Johnston said when Eric Buckley was approached about the conditions and asked why he kept so many animals, he answered: "Why not?"

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