A MAN from Upminster was one of four people to be given a suspended sentence for trying to defraud the public in a puppy farm scam.
Tony Hammond, 35, of Brunswick Court, Upminster, was given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 in costs at Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday, February 1.
Hammond had previously pleaded guilty to making false representations regarding the conditions in which the sold puppies were raised with the intention of making a commercial gain.
Three other puppy dealers were also sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on the same day.
Victoria Montgomery, 55, of Melford Avenue, Barking, was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, given a three month curfew and ordered to pay £500 in costs after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Her daughter and Hammond’s partner Roxanne Montgomery, 33, of Grafton Road, Dagenham, received a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 in costs after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Teresa Wade, 57, of Ship Lane, Aveley, was sentenced to a 21 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, given a three month curfew and ordered to pay £500 in costs after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
The RSPCA launched a large scale investigation into the breeding and selling of puppies in Essex in 2014 following complaints from the public about buying sick and dying puppies.
Police and RSPCA officers visited four addresses in Essex, Hertfordshire and London as part of the investigation, discovering dogs on a travellers’ site in Aveley and Barking.
Investigators found that two addresses were being used as fronts from which dogs were sold. Puppies were transferred from the Aveley farm to the addresses.
Carroll Lamport, the RSPCA inspector who led the investigation said: “This gang operated in an organised and professional way to dupe unsuspecting members of the public out of money.
“They were using homes to sell the dogs from in order to con prospective puppy buyers into believing that they were getting dogs who had come from loving, family homes when, in fact, they were buying pets who had come from a puppy farm,” she added.
The puppies were ’intensively bred on a commercial scale’ at Aveley, where they were kept alongside other animals, Inspector Lamport revealed.
RSPCA staff and police discovered 76 dogs and puppies at the Aveley site and two addresses, including poodles, cocker spaniels and designer cross-breeds such as cockerpoos and golden doodles.
The dogs were seized and placed into the RSPCA’s care.
Inspector Lamport added: “Thankfully, it was a happy ending for most of these dogs as they went on to find wonderful new homes with loving families who will put their health, happiness and welfare above all else.
“Sadly, the same can’t be said for the unscrupulous dealers out there who want to cash in on the many families who go on the hunt for a puppy and will do whatever it takes to make a quick buck.
The inspector warned that the re-homed animals will more than likely suffer from health issues because of the conditions in which they were kept.