Man who smuggled 35 puppies in van spared jail
MAN CAUGHT AT PORT WITH DOGS IN UNVENTILATED VAN
A MAN who tried to smuggle 35 puppies into North Wales from Ireland has been spared jail.
Ben James Illidge, of Wilson Crescent, Northwich, pleaded guilty to seven charges of smuggling the puppies through Holyhead Port last November. Three of the charges related to animal welfare offences while the others were of a regulatory nature.
The 33-year-old was handed an 18-week jail term suspended for a year when he appeared for sentence at Caernarfon Magistrates Court.
The plant operator was also ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £2,913 and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing District Judge Gwyn Jones, sitting at Caernarfon Magistrates Court, said he was satisfied Illidge had bought the animals to resell and stood to make a substantial sum.
The judge said: “It is clear these pups were brought to the UK for commercial purposes. You did so without any regard for the welfare of the animals and the security of public health.
“You were fully aware this was not permitted and had hoped the authorities at the port would not have stopped your vehicle.
“These offences are so serious immediate custody is justified. But it is clear that you may have been influenced by others who are not before a court and you entered a guilty plea.”
Prosecutor Julia Longworth said the pups were in a van which was being carried off the ferry on a breakdown truck. When officers searched the vehicle the animals were found crowded into cages concealed in the rear area.
The court heard Illidge had bought the animals from a market in Dublin and none of the animals, which were aged six to nine weeks old, had been innoculated or microchipped.
Ms Longworth said various agencies, including the RSPCA, Animal Health officials and North Wales Police, mounted a special operation at Holyhead Port on November 15 last year as the smuggling of animals into Britain was becoming ‘increas- ingly problematic’.
The officers’ attention was drawn to the white van on the back of a breakdown truck with condensation on its front and side windows. They found 35 pups in five containers concealed in the vehicle, including terriers, beagles, pomeranians and labradors, with up to nine in each container.
Ms Longworth said: “They were examined by a vet and their ages ranged from six weeks to nine weeks. The vehicle was not suitable for the transport of animals. There was no ventilation and it was too warm for the proper welfare of the animals.”
The court was told the animals were seized by the RSPCA and transported back to Ireland, under proper conditions, where they were inoculated and microchipped and subsequently rehoused.
The charges included bringing a consignment of animals into Wales without completed health certificates and without having notified the authorities of their intended arrival.
Sarah Yates, defending, said: “He (Illidge) bought the pups on the market for 80-100 euro each and planned to sell them on. He maintains the animals were only in the cages for a few hours and he continually checked them during the journey.”
Ben Illidge, left, pleaded guilty to smuggling puppies through Holyhead, above