Ex-wife of animal abuser says he treated her 'as badly as the dogs'

Gordon Laverty
Gordon Laverty

The ex-wife of a convicted animal abuser has said he treated her as badly as the dogs.

Carrickfergus dog breeder Gordon Laverty was handed a 10-month suspended jail sentence and banned from keeping pets for 20 years for a list of animal cruelty charges last week.

Shocking pictures of the harm he had done to the dogs – which he was supposedly breeding for sale – were shown in court.

They showed several King Charles Spaniels that had been starved almost to death.

Now Laverty’s former wife has come forward to reveal the horror he put her through for six years.

Joanne says Laverty, of Red Brae Road, left her suicidal after a string of affairs and cruel behaviour.

“He treated me like he treated his dogs,” says Joanne. “He was very aggressive and could turn on me for the smallest of things.

“Once he went berserk and turned on me because he thought the house should be tidier.

“I was terrified of him. I wasn’t thinking straight. If he said ‘jump’, I said, ‘How high’. I was like a zombie.

“He was cruel, he was possessive and he isolated me from all my friends and family.

“Looking back now I wonder how I survived. I’m ashamed and embarrassed because I can’t for the life of me think what possessed me to put up with him for six years.”

Last week Laverty, who’s 45-years-old, was convicted of 10 animal welfare offences.

They included four charges of causing unnecessary suffering to dogs and six counts of failing to ensure the needs of animals he was responsible for were met.

Laverty’s neglect was discovered in June 2013 after one escaped but the severely malnourished dog was taken to a vet.

Joanne says her ex-husband treated her as badly as the dogs 

A microchip resulted in council staff finding a number of animals at his home. They were described as being in an extremely poor condition and were unable to stand and had badly matted coats.

The case was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in Northern Ireland and District Judge Ken Nixon said he only being spared immediate imprisonment because of his clear record and guilty pleas.

Joanne says when she first met Laverty back in 1993 he was very “charming” and “very plausible”.

“It makes me cringe looking back now but we got married just 12 days after we met,” says Joanne.

“We met at the ice-bowl in Belfast and he always said he was very churchy which is what I was into.

“I had new plans for my future and was on the rebound I think but then I met Gordon and he was such a charmer. He was very believable and I fell for it all.

“Looking back what I thought were signs of his love for me was just him controlling me. I had to have counselling to help me get over it all.

Joanne says she’s not surprised he didn’t bother feeding the dogs he was breeding because he had little to do with helping with the children or round the house when they were living together.

“He was useless with the kids,” says Joanne. “He couldn’t cope with them or at least he was too lazy to try. While I was at work he would drop the kids round to his mum to look after them.

“There were times he would want something from the shop and he’d make me go and get the kids out of bed and take them with me because he didn’t want to be left alone with them.

“We had a dog when we were together and I remember him kicking it a few times.

“I started discovering things after the first baby was born. He ordered me to stop seeing this particular friend and I couldn’t understand why.

“It was years later I found out he had tried to start an affair with her while I was in hospital having our baby and he didn’t want me finding out.

When the family moved to Ballymena Joanne says Laverty started to become more and more aggressive.

“He got worse and worse until one night I was thinking about ending it all. Luckily a friend of mine called round and I opened up and told her everything.

“She contacted my parents and the police came out to give me protection while I moved my stuff out of the house.

“When he came back he wrecked the place.”

Joanne has turned her life around since even though she had to go through years of court appearances as Laverty battled for access to their children.

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