‘Farm of horrors’ with animal limb in buckets and carcass in bags uncovered by RSPCA


RSPCA inspectors found a horse carcase in a plastic bag and a hoof in a plastic bucket during a raid on a ‘puppy farm’.

The officers seized 216 horses, dogs, alpacas, goats, donkeys and chickens from the farm.

Pictures displayed in court today showed the skeleton of an animal underneath a truck at the property – and a trailer coated on the inside with animal faeces.

RSPCA officers said the raid came after Geoffrey Bennett and Christine Kelly were suspected of running a puppy farm by the animal welfare charity.

The 66-year-old man and the 58-year-old woman are on trial before a District Judge at Guildford Magistrates’ Court, accused of 24 offences under the Animal Welfare Act, 2006.



Officers found a horse’s hoof in a bucket and an animal skeleton under a truck

Charges put to Bennett and Kelly included causing unnecessary suffering to a goat, a miniature poodle and a white collie dog.

Specific accusations related to failing to provide dental treatment for five equines, which had led to mouth trauma and failing to treat ulcers on another equine.

A warrant was jointly executed by the police and the RSPCA at their home, Hurst Farm on Portsmouth Road, Ripley, Surrey, on January 9 last year.



More than 200 animals were seized from the property

The court heard today that 100 people entered the farm to carry out the warrant.

A total of 216 horses, dogs alpacas, goats, donkeys and chickens were seized from the farm by police, the RSPCA, Trading Standards officers and multiple animal charities.

Inspector Tina Ward, taking pictures for the RSPCA, showed the distressing photos of the animal remains to the court.

RSPCA Inspector William Rippon, a specialist in puppy farm investigations, told the judge how the animal welfare investigators had split up into two dog teams, three equine barn teams and two equine field teams.



Geoffrey Bennett and Christine Kelly have been accused of causing unnecessary suffering to a goat and dogs

The RSPCA had instructed vets to treat the animals while they were on the farm, the court heard, while gathering evidence of the alleged offences.

Sara-Lise Howe, defending Bennett, told the District Judge that the warrant which had been executed at Hurst Farm was a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Ms Howe said Bennett’s passport and phone were seized during the raid, alleging that the passport had been kept by the RSPCA for several months, following the publication of an article in The Spectator about it being taken.



Bennett and Kelly’s phones and passports were seized, a court heard

It was alleged by Ms Howe that a large amount of cash had been taken from Bennett’s property during the raid and the RSPCA had not kept a record of who had been entering the premises while they were there.

RSPCA Inspector Rippon said: “I have not been aware of any allegation regarding that amount of money and if it had been made formally to the police I would have been the first point of call.”

The lawyer argued the RSPCA had taken a leading role in the raid on the farm and asked for disclosure of documents showed the RSPCA had provided “suggested wording” of the warrant to the police.



A horse carcase was found in a plastic bad

Ms Howe said: “This warrant was all but in name executed by the RSPCA. This was not a police warrant, the police were in a supporting role.

“The numbers of RSPCA inspectors and the roles that were allocated to them demonstrated that this was an RSPCA warrant.

“Ultimately, whatever your findings are on the facts, that will allow us to exclude the evidence gathered subsequent to an unlawfully executed warrant.”

Cross-examining RSPCA Inspector Rippon, Ms Howe suggested the RSPCA had intended to take animals away from Bennett’s farm before they had even raided the premises.

She told him: “The plan was that you were going to take from the premises a large number of animals. It costs the RSPCA a great amount of money and resources to remove the large number of animals that were taken from Mr Bennett’s property.”

Bennett and Kelly both deny 12 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, six counts of a person responsible for an animal failing in their duty to ensure welfare and six counts of failing to comply with an animal by-product requirement.

The trial continues.





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