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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 20:58 GMT
Puppy dealer is guilty of cruelty
John Walsh
John Walsh has been convicted of animal cruelty
A dog dealer who left nine puppies in a car on a hot day in May last year has been found guilty of animal cruelty.

John Walsh, 55, of Brampton, Cumbria, left the dogs in sweltering heat on Weymouth quay, Dorset, to get a ferry to Jersey as a foot passenger.

Walsh, who denied causing unnecessary suffering, faces a six-month sentence.

Walsh, who was the man who imported the sheep which led to the first case of foot-and-mouth in Northern Ireland in 2001, will be sentenced next month.

He had been jailed for three months in 2001 for illegally bringing sheep to Ireland.

In Wednesday's case Blandford Magistrates Court, Dorset, heard that the dogs were only found after a parking attendant heard their whimpers.

As well as facing jail Wicklow-born Walsh could also be fined 5,000 and be disqualified from keeping animals.

The case has now been adjourned for sentencing at the same court until 11 January next year.

We hope that they ( the court) consider a disqualification in this case in view of his previous conviction to prevent any further incidences like this occurring again
Marie Griffiths, the RSPCA inspector

David Macpherson, chairman of the bench, said: "Mr Walsh left the puppies in certain knowledge that he would not get back until 3pm - a period of not less than eight hours."

The court heard Walsh left six Jack Russells, two Papillons and a Bichon Frise in his Vauxhall Astra on 20 May.

The eight-week-old puppies were discovered by a parking attendant and police were called.

A policeman's evidence described the heat coming from the car "like a sauna from a health centre" and that the puppies were "panting heavily".

Previous convictions

Walsh avoided police and an RSPCA inspector waiting for him at Weymouth quayside by hiding inside a van as he left the ferry.

The court heard he did not try to recover his car or the puppies.

It was also told Walsh had three previous convictions relating to animals.

They included being convicted of animal cruelty and fined 500 by a Scottish court in November 2003, after taking a ferry with "49 puppies and three kittens stuffed into nine carriers in the back of his car".

Marie Griffiths, the RSPCA inspector in charge of the case, said: "The court have viewed this as very serious and we hope that they consider a disqualification in this case in view of his previous conviction to prevent any further incidences like this occurring again."

In 2001 Walsh brought a consignment of sheep into Northern Ireland from Carlisle in Cumbria in February that year at the beginning of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

They were supposed to go for slaughter at an abattoir but the deal fell through and they ended up instead on a farm in south Armagh. The animals were discovered to have the disease at the end of that month.

The authorities in Northern Ireland said at the time the animals in question had been illegally imported into the province.

But Walsh, who fled to England following the furore over the outbreak, protested his innocence, saying he did not intentionally buy diseased sheep.

Fine for puppy trafficker
12 Nov 03 |  Northern Ireland

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