Puppy farm vet spared jail term


Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - QASIM PERACHA

A DIS­GRACED Uxbridge vet was told by a judge that he was a “ob­vi­ously a very good vet” be­fore spar­ing him from a stretch be­hind bars.

Daniel Do­herty, 49, runs two MyVet24/7 prac­tices in Uxbridge and Hilling­don and was con­victed in April of con­spir­acy to com­mit fraud when he is­sued health cards to thou­sands of pup­pies farmed by a Hayes gang.

Sen­tenc­ing him on Tues­day May 22 to 12 months in prison, sus­pended for 12 months, Judge McDowall at Isle­worth Crown Court told the vet that he “hoped very much” he would still be al­lowed to prac­tice.

Nearly 5,000 pup­pies who were ei­ther im­ported from a dealer in Ire­land or bred in dis­gust­ing con­di­tions at one of four homes in Hayes, were given vac­ci­na­tions and health cards by Do­herty’s MyVet24/7, a busi­ness with a turnover of £2 mil­lion, the court heard.

Pros­e­cu­tor Hazel Stevens said that the “ma­jor­ity of pup­pies sold re­quired vet­eri­nary treat­ment, and a num­ber of them died”.

Some of the pup­pies fell sick soon af­ter they were bought, with some even tak­ing a turn for the worse dur­ing the drive home.

Com­mon ill­nesses the pets con­tracted in­cluded par­vovirus, campy­lobac­ter and even gi­a­rda, which can be trans­ferred between species, en­dan­ger­ing the hu­mans who bought them.

The RSPCA be­lieves that the gang made a to­tal of £2.5 mil­lion, sell­ing more than 5,000 pup­pies at an av­er­age of £500.

Dur­ing mit­i­ga­tion, Do­herty’s lawyer Adrian Eissa QC pro­vided the judge with more than 100 let­ters sent by friends and sup­port­ers of Do­herty in­clud­ing other vets and prac­ti­tion­ers and pa­tients.

Do­herty, for­merly of Wood Lane, Iver Heath, first came un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in re­la­tion to the puppy farm­ing scan­dal when cus­tomers who bought the sick pup­pies re­ported the traders to the RSPCA.

In a joint mis­sion with po­lice in May 2016, the char­ity swooped on ad­dresses in Braden­ham Road, Rosedale Av­enue, Cold­har­bour Lane and Bed­well Gar­dens, all in Hayes.

They found ev­i­dence of puppy farm­ing as well as health doc­u­men­ta­tion for var­i­ous pup­pies from MyVet24/7 prac­tices.

Re­mark­ably, Do­herty and mem­bers of the gang con­tin­ued their il­le­gal puppy trade for an­other year, with RSPCA es­ti­mat­ing 4,689 pup­pies were taken to MyVet 24/7 by the gang between 23 March 2011 and 10 May 2017.

Since pro­ceed­ings against the vet started in 2017, he has con­tin­ued to work at both surg­eries, and his lawyer Mr Eissa told the judge that dur­ing his four-week trial in March and April this year, Do­herty would leave court ev­ery day and work through the night at his prac­tices.

Af­ter sen­tenc­ing, Judge McDowall added: “Ob­vi­ously you are a very good vet in terms of your work.

“I am not sure if what I say has an im­pact on your pro­fes­sional body, but I hope very much they may take as le­nient a view as they can, rather than de­stroy­ing your pur- pose in life al­to­gether.

“For what it is worth I hope they will be as le­nient as they can”.

While Do­herty avoided jail for his role in the scam, which grossed him an es­ti­mated £79,000 over six years, two mem­bers of the gang were taken into cus­tody.

Si­mon O’Don­nell, 30, pre­vi­ously of Braden­ham Road, Hayes, and Thomas Stokes, 26, pre­vi­ously of Cold­har­bour Lane, Hayes, both re­ceived prison sen­tences of three years for the same charges, as well as four-month con­cur­rent terms for an­i­mal wel­fare of­fences.

Mar­garet McDon­agh, 27, Si­mon O’Don­nell’s wife, re­ceived an 18-month com­mu­nity or­der for three fraud of­fences

Thomas O’Don­nell, 29, pre­vi­ously of Bed­well Gar­dens, Hayes, who ad­mit­ted four of­fences of fraud and three an­i­mal wel­fare of­fences, was sen­tenced to two years in prison, sus­pended for two years.

Thomas’ wife Mary McDon­agh, re­ceived a 12-month com­mu­nity or­der for one fraud of­fence.

Ed­ward Stokes, 35, pre­vi­ously of Rosedale Av­enue, Hayes, had his sen­tenc­ing ad­journed un­til June 14.

Farmed dogs were kept in out­build­ings at the de­fen­dants’ homes and given fraud­u­lent bills of health by Daniel Do­herty

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