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Woman killed puppies in suitcases

23 October 09 17:32 GMT

A dog owner faces jail after being found guilty of leaving puppies to die in suitcases at her East Sussex house.

Amanda Cheadle, 58, stacked the closed suitcases in a locked cupboard under the stairs at her farmhouse in Bell Lane, Fletching, near Uckfield.

The animals suffered starvation, dehydration and suffocation.

Cheadle failed to appear at Lewes Magistrates' Court where she was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering and neglect.

At the end of a four-day trial, magistrates said her offending fell within "the highest level of seriousness" and indicated she faced jail after issuing a warrant without bail.

When RSPCA officers visited her property in 2008, they found 16 adult dogs and 10 puppies in a double garage with limited natural light, limited ventilation and hazardous conditions.

Cheadle gave up ownership of 10 puppies and six dogs, leaving her with 10 collie dogs, which were taken away at a later visit.

The RSPCA returned them when Cheadle improved conditions at the property.

However, RSPCA inspector Rachel Bell said that during one subsequent visit to Cheadle's home, they saw a heavily pregnant dog and two lactating dogs.

The court was told Cheadle claimed the puppies were already dead and had been buried.

A search warrant was issued and two suitcases, containing dead and dying puppies, were found locked in a cupboard under the stairs.

One was dead in one suitcase and four three-day-old puppies were dead in the other.

In his summing up speech, magistrate Chris Bell suggested the RSPCA should have checked on Cheadle's promised improvements before returning the dogs to her.

"This in itself no way mitigates Mrs Cheadle from her own responsibilities and we note that she did refuse [the RSPCA] access to the property on one occasion," he said.

"Our conclusion is that Mrs Cheadle intentionally killed or intended to kill the puppies by placing them in suitcases, thus causing starvation, dehydration and suffocation."

Following the case, Insp Bell said: "I will never forget the sight of those dead and dying puppies left to rot in suitcases.

"These conditions were the worst I have seen dogs kept during the whole of my career."

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