A gang that raised £ 850,000 by selling sick and dying babies from two Essex properties has pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit puppies.
The RSPCA and local authorities launched an investigation into the sale of puppies in the Essex area after contacting members of the public who purchased sick chicks shortly after purchase.
Four members, Kelly Jean Bennett and Ricky Jay Bennett, both Weymouth Drive, Chafford Hundred, Grays; moreover, Steven Gilmore Foster and Stacey Jane Hayward, both from Colliford Road in West Thurrock, were tried in Basildon Crown Court on Friday, May 13, all pleaded guilty; two for fraud and two for acquiring criminal property.
Four members of a gang selling dogs have pleaded guilty to fraudulently selling puppies. (Photo: Essex Live / BPM Media) Read more related articles Read more related articles
Kelly Bennett also pleaded guilty to two counts under the Animal Welfare Act, while Ricky Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of animal welfare, the Mirror reported.
The Charitable Special Operations Unit (SOU) – a task force specializing in the study of serious, organized and commercial cruelty to animals as a high-value child trade – began exploring the Crays Hill facility in 2019.
Concluding the case, Hazel Stevens, prosecutor for the charity Animal Welfare, said: “Members of the public have complained to local authorities and the RSPCA about taking children from these buildings – they fell ill soon after the sale.
“Between June and September 2019, twelve witnesses testified about children with health problems being sold at Billericay, and in March 2019, one witness testified.”
The RSPCA and local authorities have launched an investigation into the sale of puppies in the Essex region after contacting members of the public (Photo: Ian Cooper / North Wales Live)
The court was told that the Basildon Council had given Stacey Hayward a license to sell puppies, but in July 2018 the license was revoked due to complaints about sick children.
His breeding license expired in December 2018.
Hayward and his partner, Stephen Foster, moved into a new home, and in October 2019, the RSPCA began receiving complaints about an address on Weymouth Drive, occupied by Kelly and Ricky Bennett. In August 2019, an RSPCA officer arrived and gave advice on licensing, but the address was never licensed and the court was informed.
Weymouth Drive was linked to an address on Colliford Road by a witness who confirmed Hayward and Foster’s new residence.
Both vendors advertised puppies described as “home-grown,” but it appears that most of the puppies were from Wales and that Wales vaccination cards show cut or erased details.
Children Recovered from Essex Property (Photo: Essex Live / BPM Media)
Prosecutor Hazel added: “In addition, advertisements with different names and numbers have been placed on sales websites. Visitors to Hayward’s address continued to be shown his license, despite the cancellation.
“A search warrant was issued for both properties, and it turned out that they both had puppies along with some adult dogs. Dead puppies were also found in the freezer at both facilities (two in Weymouth and one in Colliford).
“The seizure of documents and telephones additionally indicates a link between the two addresses, and there is evidence that Hayward delivered them to Bennett’s address.”
Nine puppies were found in a barn behind a garden on Colliford Road; all were arrested and taken into custody. Someone tested positive for parvovirus and unfortunately died, but Giardia and others suffering from other health problems completely recovered and moved.
At Weymouth Drive, officials found three large spaniels, five rooster spaniel chicks and two dead spaniel chicks that “looked dead for several days,” Hazel said. The court found that a litter of spaniel chicks contained Giardia, a small parasite that infects the intestines.
RSPCA officials worked closely with a financial investigator from the Eastern Regional Special Operations Division, who reviewed the financial records of the vendors and estimated the proceeds from the sale of the puppies at around £ 850,000.
The confiscated phones were analyzed and many messages were displayed in response to advertisements using puppets under different names. Bank statements showed payments marked “Puppy”.
According to the report, both Hayward and Kelly Bennett regularly searched for puppies and placed advertisements on the Internet using fake names and details, claiming that the children were raised and raised in a family home.
Messages on the phone showed Ricky Bennett receiving the children’s money, and witnesses said that Foster also deposited money in the bank account for the children.
RSPCA officials analyzed the ads and estimated that from December 2018 to March 2020, at least 100 ads were placed on Gumtree, Preloved and Pets4homes, advertising about 500 puppies.
The court found that the sale of children continued during the entire blockade, until May 2021.
The four will be tried in Basildon Crown Court on August 12.
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