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Fraudsters sentenced for selling sick and dying puppies

Charlie Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Charlie, collapsed from deadly parvovirus days after being bought by a family in Feltham

A gang of fraudsters who made millions of pounds selling sick and dying puppies to unsuspecting members of the public has been sentenced.

The group of six is estimated to have made about £2.5m selling more than 5,000 dogs from houses in west London.

Some gang members were jailed at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday.

A vet, who helped sales by providing certificates which suggested the puppies were healthy and bred locally, was spared jail.

Daniel Doherty, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud, was given a 12-month suspended sentence. He plans to appeal against his conviction.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Many of the dogs found by the RSPCA had to be put down

RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall, who uncovered the gang with help from the Metropolitan Police, said Yorkshire terriers, cavapoos and labradoodles were advertised online and sold for up to £650 each.

She said many of the dogs recovered had since died or had to be put to sleep due to severe health problems.

"This was a complicated and multi-faceted, high-volume conspiracy whereby the gang has misrepresented commercial, puppy-farmed dogs imported from abroad as family-bred pets to con members of the public out of money," she added.

The puppies were illegally imported from Ireland before being taken to the defendants' homes where they were kept in plastic sheds, outbuildings and garages.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Dogs were kept in sheds and outbuildings at the defendants' homes

One family in Feltham said they had to put their new puppy down days after bringing it home.

Vets discovered that Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Charlie, had parvovirus in February 2016.

Charlier's owner, known only as Claire, said: "Her legs gave way and she had no energy so I took her to the surgery. By the time I got her there she was half lifeless.

"It was heartbreaking."

Sentencing details

  • Vet Daniel Doherty, 49, of Wood Lane, Iver Heath: 80 hours unpaid work and a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, for conspiracy to commit fraud
  • Simon O'Donnell, 30, of Bradenham Road, Hayes: Three years in jail for conspiracy to commit fraud, running a pet shop without a licence, and three animal welfare offences
  • Thomas Stokes, 26, of Coldharbour Lane, Hayes: Jailed for three years for one conspiracy to commit fraud offence and one animal welfare offence
  • Thomas O'Donnell, 29, of Bedwell Gardens, Hayes: 100 hours unpaid work and a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years for four fraud offences and three animal welfare offences
  • Margaret McDonagh, 27, of Bradenham Road, Hayes: 18-month community order for three fraud offences
  • Mary McDonagh, 28, of Bedwell Gardens, Hayes: 12-month community order for one fraud offence
  • Edward Stokes, 35, of Tenaplas Drive, Upper Basildon: Will be sentenced on 14 June for fraud and animal welfare offences

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