Two jailed and family banned from keeping animals for cruelty offences

  • Two members of a family who ran an animal sanctuary in Oxfordshire have been jailed for cruelty offences.

    More than 100 animals, including 14 horses, were removed from Crunchy’s Animal Resuce Sanctuary near Abingdon in January 2012.

    A total of 8 people — Angela Russell, her father Fred, her son Robert Russell, her daughters Kirsty and Louise, her brother Peter, niece Abigail McHugh and Angela’s carer, Daniel Bunyan went on trial in April at Bicester Magistrates Court last month (24 June).

    All bar Peter Russell and Daniel Bunyan were convicted of 16 offences of cruelty — including failing to provide adequate nutrition, adequate parasitic control and provision of veterinary care.

    And today (Wednesday 24 July) they were sentenced.

    Crunchy’s owner Angela Russell, 44, and her father Frederick Russell, 81, were both sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment and were banned from keeping animals for life.

    Mr. Russell’s sentence was suspended for 18 months because of his age and he was ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

    Robert Russell, 24, was sentenced to immediate imprisonment for 18 weeks and was banned from owning, keeping, dealing, transporting or keeping of animals for 10 years.

    Kirsty Russell, 22, received a curfew order from 8pm and 6am for four months. She also received a community order and must pay £1,000 in costs. Her sister Louise Russell, 20, was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment which is suspended for 18 months. She must also be electronically monitored for curfew from 8pm to 6am for three months. She was ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and both sisters are banned from owning, keeping, dealing, transporting or participating in keeping of animals for 10 years.

    Abigail McHugh, 20, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service over the next 12 months and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.

    “The photos and videos shown during this case will be remembered by everyone who saw them for a very long time. In particular, the horses crippled by overgrown hooves and the horses trying to eat from a wheelie bin,” said district judge Tim Pattinson at the sentencing.

    “All of you inflicted this suffering in the name of this charity — a rescue centre, a sanctuary  —  but nothing could be further from the truth than that of what was going on at Crunchy’s.”

    RSPCA deputy chief inspector Kirsty Withnall investigated the case.

    “What we found at Faringdon Road were filthy, disgusting conditions where animals were being kept amongst all sorts of hazardous items without food and water,” she said. “We have a duty to protect animals from this sort of neglect and we hope that the sentence will help to do this.

    “Many of these animals had been entrusted to the care of the defendants by loving owners.  Instead of the care promised, the animals were left in dirty, broken down buildings without vet treatment where it was needed or access to basic care.”

    World Horse Welfare took 6 horses into its care at Hall Farm, Snetterton in Norfolk. Frodo a skewbald Shetland, Gem a Welsh cross and her foal Pandora, Welsh cross Harmony, and 2 stallions Rupert and Diego.

    World Horse Welfare yard supervisor for Hall Farm, Lizzie Hunt, added: “When the horses came into our care they were very nervous and completely unhandled, their feet had probably never been seen by a farrier and they were not used to headcollars. As they arrived they were covered in clumps of faeces and mud with bald patches all over their bodies where they were suffering from a lice infestation.”

    of the 4our horses taken to the Blue Cross, 1 had to be put down. The other 3 — Dylan, Timmy and Aladdin — have now been rehomed.

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