Animal cruelty JP avoids prison term

Holly the West Highland terrier
Holly the West Highland terrier

A magistrate of 30 years has avoided a jail term for dog cruelty.

Gail Bradshaw, 64, and her daughter Nicola, 29, were found guilty last month of two offences of failing to provide proper and necessary care and attention for their two West Highland white terriers.

Poppy the terrier

Poppy the terrier

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Yesterday they both received 12-month community orders with an unpaid work requirement of 200 hours each.

Gail Bradshaw had earlier quit her position at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court following the guilty verdicts.

Both dogs, Poppy and Holly, had chronic and severe skin conditions which led to infection and fur loss, Preston justices heard.

Visits to the vets with Poppy in 2014 and 2015 established the cause of her symptoms but the Bradshaws, of Minehead Avenue, Leigh, were inconsistent in following the treatment plans.

Gail Bradshaw and her daughter Nicola Bradshaw

Gail Bradshaw and her daughter Nicola Bradshaw

A new plan was put in place in March 2015 by the vet with the advice to return in seven to 10 days but Poppy was never taken back, said the RSPCA.

Holly started to get similar symptoms in early 2017, added the RSPCA, but was not taken to the vet despite both animals being covered by a “Rolls-Royce” insurance plan.

Both defendants bowed their heads in the dock throughout yesterday’s hearing and Gail Bradshaw frequently wiped away tears.

Defending, Philip Clemo said: “This is not an animal cruelty case where someone has been wilfully cruel or mean to an animal. This case amounts to a series of serious errors of judgement. They deeply cared for these animals but were, I’m afraid to say, incompetent in caring for them.

“I hope their remorse and upset at what happened is clear. It is clear the devastation they display and they now know it did not need to happen and it could have been prevented.”

He added the impact of the proceedings had had a “major effect” on the pair with both afraid to go out in public. Nicola Bradshaw had been the subject of online abuse with one message on Facebook stating she should “rot in hell.”

Sentencing, chairman of the bench Ruth James told the Bradshaws: “Both dogs were subjected to a prolonged period of neglect over two years and in addition both dogs experienced skin conditions without treatment for a prolonged period of time.

“Although the offences were serious enough that a custodial sentence could be imposed we are instead making community orders. Custody was not appropriate in the case taking into account all the circumstances and the mitigating factors.”

Both defendants, who had no previous convictions, were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £500 each.

The court heard the dogs are currently with the RSPCA but will be rehomed.

RSPCA inspector Vicki McDonald said the skin conditions and fur loss were the worst she had seen in her 15-year career, adding: “They were in an absolutely shocking state. When I first saw Poppy she was wearing a filthy baby jumper. Gail Bradshaw said she put it on her to keep her warm and to stop her scratching herself raw.

“When the vet tried to remove the jumper it had stuck to Poppy’s weeping skin around her armpits, chest and front legs.”