Crawley man given suspended prison sentence after ‘prolonged and serious neglect’ of dogs

A Crawley man has been given a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from keeping animals for life after pleading guilty to a string of offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 1:51 pm

Gordon Clarke, 63, of Black Dog Walk, Crawley, appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, January 5 for sentencing. He had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Animal Welfare Act, related to 15 dogs, at an earlier court hearing.

He was given an 18-week prison sentence - suspended for 12 months - and disqualified from keeping all animals for life. He was also ordered to complete 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay costs and a victim surcharge of £278.

RSPCA officers visited a property in Crawley on April 6, 2021 after concerns were raised about the welfare of a large number of animals living at the home. They spoke to Mr Clarke and gave him advice related to a spaniel with an extensively matted coat.

A Crawley man has been given a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from keeping animals for life after pleading guilty to a string of offences under the Animal Welfare Act. Pictures courtesy of the RSPCA

Mr Clarke refused to allow the officers access to the rest of the animals so they returned on April 8 with Sussex Police who had a warrant under the Animal Welfare Act.

An independent vet checked all of the animals and 16 dogs and two cats were seized, under the Animal Welfare Act, and taken for veterinary treatment. These included chihuahuas, spaniels and rottweilers.

They were all signed over at a later date and taken into RSPCA care. They were all rehomed successfully by the charity except for one spaniel who, sadly, despite veterinary treatment and lots of time, had to be put to sleep.

The chihuahuas, rottweilers and some cats were being kept in the front room and upstairs, while the five spaniels were in a small, bare and dirty back room.

Gordon Clarke appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on January 5 for sentencing. He had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Animal Welfare Act, related to 15 dogs, at an earlier court hearing

Inspector Tony Woodley, who led the investigation, said in his witness statement: "The interior of the house was dimly lit. The ‘living room’ area with a sofa and very large TV was accessible by the cats, rottweilers and chihuahuas. There were food and water bowls in this area.

"To the rear of this was an area of approximately 4m x 2.5m which contained the spaniels. This area had a strong smell and the walls and floor were stained with either faeces or dirt or a mixture of the two.

"There was a human bed in this area with a mattress. The mattress was stained brown and there were blankets on it which were also brown and covered in faeces or mud.

"The floor had concrete missing in places and two dogs were cowering in the area where a draw was missing from a wooden chest of drawers.

He was given an 18-week prison sentence - suspended for 12 months - and disqualified from keeping all animals for life. He was also ordered to complete 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days and pay costs and a victim surcharge of £278

"There were no water or food bowls in this area. In this area I saw packs of dog food but this was not accessible to the dogs."