Couple Banned From Keeping Animals for Five Years

Four cats were repeatedly left unattended and advice was ignored despite warnings from the RSPCA

A man and woman from Lowestoft have been disqualified from keeping all animals for five years following a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

Michael Ian Mark Driver (DOB 12/04/2000) of Raglan Street, Lowestoft pleaded guilty to two animal welfare offences of failing to meet the needs of his two cats Sparkle and Marble, contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

A second person, Bethany Alice Wildman (DOB 08/04/1996) of High Street, Lowestoft also pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to meet the needs of a further two cats called HJ and Shadow.  Both were sentenced at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court last week (31 May) where in addition to the five year disqualification from keeping all animals, they were fined £120 and ordered to pay £120 costs each, together with a £34 victim surcharge.

The RSPCA was alerted to the plight of the four cats that had been left unattended in a flat in High Street. Lowestoft, last year.

A number of RSPCA officers tried to engage with the pair, visiting their flat on multiple occasions and placing seal tapes across the door to monitor if anyone was attending to the animals.

Fifteen visits were made initially last December over the course of two weeks as officers repeatedly tried to get a response from their owners. It was proven that the cats were left unattended on four occasions ranging from 24 hours to over 48 hours.

Photos and footage were taken through the letterbox to try and assess the cats’ conditions. On each occasion the cats could be heard meowing loudly and clawing at the door for food. They were given pouches of cat food through the letterbox due to concerns that they were not being fed. On occasions the cats ripped the sachets of cat food out of the officers’ hands such was their desperation.

Unfortunately, the defendants continued to ignore contact attempts from the RSPCA until at last contact was made with Driver who claimed a friend was feeding the cats. Police managed to get Driver to meet with them and RSPCA Inspector Amy Pellegrini, who led the investigation for the animal welfare charity, at the flat.

The court heard how conditions inside the property were poor – it was dark and cold and there was mess everywhere, with three very soiled and dirty litter trays. It was agreed the cats would be removed and a warning notice was issued advising the animals could not be returned to that flat until the environment was clean and kept clean, that they needed to be attended to twice daily and fed adequate amounts of food. The RSPCA offered to rehome the cats but this offer was declined.

The cats were taken to the two new addresses by the couple who moved into separate properties. Driver moved into Victoria Arcade, in Great Yarmouth with Sparkle and Marble but the pets were later found abandoned in the property.

Meanwhile Wildman moved into a friend’s property with HJ and Shadow but she later returned the pair back to the flat in High Street, Lowestoft against the advice of the RSPCA.

Despite the previous advice issued, the RSPCA soon received another call after Christmas about the pets being left unattended.

The RSPCA were able to prove that the cats were not being attended to and again, the conditions inside the properties were filthy. There were no signs of any food or water within Driver’s flat and the cat Inspector Pellegrini saw inside the address was underweight and hungry. The animals were seized by police and placed into RSPCA care.

Inspector Pellegrini said: “I believed the cats were starving due to the scratches at the door and the loud noises they were making. It was claimed the flat was being visited everyday but we were able to prove that this simply was not true. No-one was attending consistently each day and the behaviour of the cats was worrying.  Each time the cats were fed through the letterbox they tried to take the pouches of cat food due to their desperation.”

All of the cats have since been rehomed Shadow and HJ were rehomed together from RSPCA Newbrook and Sparkle and Marble were rehomed together from the RSPCA East Norfolk branch.

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