Wellingborough man sentenced after admitting repeated animal welfare offences
Main article content
A Wellingborough man has been sentenced after admitting animal welfare offences in breach of a lifetime ban against keeping animals.
In February, Northamptonshire Police officers attended a property in Cromwell Road, Rushden, after a 999 concern for welfare report was made due to a bad smell and flies at the windows of the house.
Inside, they discovered 167 rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs and birds living in squalid, unsuitable conditions, including some forced to share cages with dead animals.
Kim Starks, aged 61, was identified as their owner and was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, and with the breach of a disqualification order banning him from owning or keeping animals.
This had originally been imposed in February 2000 following a previous conviction, and, following a breach that March, it was made a lifetime ban in June 2000 at Northampton Crown Court.
Body-worn video from one of the officers who responded to the 999 call to a property in Cromwell Road, Rushden, shows the terrible conditions in which Kim Starks was keeping more than 160 animals and birds.
On February 28 this year, Starks entered guilty pleas to both charges at Northampton Magistrates’ Court, but while awaiting sentence, he was arrested again after the Force’s Rural Crime Team discovered he had been responsible for several horses, a donkey, and numerous rabbits and guinea pigs in a field in Hannington.
Starks, of Brooke Mews, Wellingborough, was charged with a further breach of the banning order, and a second count of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse, and appeared before magistrates on May 2, entering guilty pleas to both.
At the same court on Friday, May 19, Starks was sentenced to 18 weeks in custody for each of the two counts of causing unnecessary suffering, to run concurrently, and 16 weeks in custody for each of the two breaches of the disqualification order, to run concurrently to one another but consecutively to the first two sentences, making a total sentence of 34 weeks.
His sentence was suspended for two years, meaning if he reoffends during this period he faces prison.
A forfeiture order was made for all the animals involved, and Starks was ordered to pay £5,489.59 compensation. His disqualification order was continued, preventing him from owning or keeping any animals, from participating in keeping any animals, dealing in, transporting or arranging for the transportation of any animals.
PC Chloe Gillies, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “When officers first attended the house in Rushden they were faced with a house filled with animals, all in terrible living conditions – there were a total of 167 living creatures packed into cages stacked on top of each other, all over the property.
“While I’m disappointed this wasn’t an immediate custodial sentence, I’m very glad that the poor animals Starks was utterly failing to care for have been removed from him and will now have the chance to live healthy, happy lives.
“I would also like to thank the RSPCA for all their assistance in this case, all the vets involved, and all those involved in the transport and boarding facilities for all the animals.
“It was a team effort to rescue all these animals. The number of animals involved in this case was truly shocking and I am pleased that they have now been given the opportunity to find loving, caring homes.
“I hope this case shows our commitment to protecting animal welfare – if we receive information that someone who is banned from keeping animals is breaching that, or committing other offences under the Animal Welfare Act, we will investigate.”
*Anyone with information concerning any animals which may be linked to Kim Starks, or anyone with concerns about the welfare of any animal, is asked to call the Rural Crime Team via 101, or email officers on [email protected]. In an emergency, always call 999.*