A ‘loner’ who kept 30 inter-bred feral cats and a ferret in his deceased mother’s home where excrement was waist-high has been spared jail but banned from owning animals for life.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard how Martin Jones, 58, now of Yew tree Drive, Shirebrook, had left two cats at his deceased mother’s property in Hillsway, Shirebrook, and their offspring started breeding as he occasionally fed them.
Prosecuting solicitor, Andy Cash, who represented the RSPCA, said: “The property was first visited on August 31, last year, because of a report of a sick, stray cat and there were repeated visits to the home at Hillsway but the property had darkened windows.
“Seals were placed at the property but they were broken and replaced and broken again so it was apparent someone was there and RSPCA notices were left but there was no response but the defendant must have known they were visiting.
“Further enquiries brought the existence of the defendant to light and since that time he was completely compliant.”
At a hearing last week the court was shown a video taken by the RSPCA as their inspectors searched the property and it transpired there were 30 cats and kittens and a ferret and many of the animals had to be rounded up with traps.
Horrific footage showed the floors and work surfaces covered with waist-high excrement with piles of rubbish strewn everywhere reaching up the walls and as high at the tops of the kitchen work tops.
Mr Cash added: “The defendant had put two cats into the property after his mother died and what we see now is the progeny of these two cats.”
The vet revealed it was impossible not to stand in excrement and the cats were suffering with laboured breathing and some had feline AIDS and they must have been suffering for at least six months.
Mr Cash said some of the cats have been re-homed but many have had to be put down because of the poor state of their health and due to their feral nature.
Jones had thrown food into the property, according to Mr Cash, but there were no obvious signs that the animals had been given water.
Mr Cash said: “A lot of the cats’ paws and claws were caked in faecal matter. They were not able to groom and they bred and there were kittens in the property and a number would not have survived but it has not been possible to recover their bodies. They were all related.”
The court heard how Jones’s mother died in 2005 and he acquired two cats shortly afterwards and the property was effectively closed and conditions deteriorated over a number of years.
In mitigation, Ben Strelley, said that Jones had never come to terms with the death of his mum and dad and suffered from a number of problems including depression and anxiety.
Jones was said to have purchased the cats to give him something to ‘focus on’ but then when another family member fell ill his attention turned to looking after her.
Jones, who was described as ‘vulnerable’ and a ‘loner’ was said to have looked after the cats for a long period of time before this offence happened.
“It is certainly a very sad state of affairs for someone aged 58 for what is a very unusual offence.
“The visit by the RSPCA was almost a relief for him because things had got out of control.
“The term ‘burying his head in the sand’ could not be more true.
“He is someone who lost his way after a number of tragic cases over a number of years.”
“He is remorseful and he is disgusted by his actions.
Jones pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to 30 cats and a ferret after keeping them in a detrimental environment between September, 2016, and March, 2017.
Sentencing Jones, District Judge Andrew Davison, said: “This was a long period of suffering.
“You left them to run wild in really poor conditions.
“This was an appalling type of behaviour.”
Jones was sentenced to 18 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months. He must also complete a 10-day rehabilitation requirement and pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £115. He was also banned from owning or keeping or participating in the controlling of animals for life.