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Animal abuser jailed over shocking treatment of dogs gets suspended sentence for drug dealing

Marcus McMillan was previously jailed after 10 dogs were discovered in horrendous conditions during a drugs raid

Marcus McMillan

Christopher WoodhouseSunday Life

This is the heartless hunter who has avoided jail for dealing cannabis and possessing illegal prescription pills.

Marcus McMillan dodged a spell behind bars last week after admitting having the Class C drug Lyrica and almost £2,300 in criminal cash.

The 27-year-old was caught with the drugs and money at a house on Belair Street in the Woodvale area of west Belfast in July 2020.

He was later charged with possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply, being concerned in the supply of a Class B drug, possession of a Class C drug and possession of £2,299.67 in criminal property.

At the city’s crown court last week, McMillan was handed a suspended prison sentence by Judge Paul Ramsey KC to allow him to continue to work with the Probation Service.

Judge Ramsey said it would “be in his interest” to allow him to continue to engage with the service and that an updated report from probation was “positive”.

McMillan was attending appointments with probation after sentencing in the case had been deferred from last year.

He added that McMillan’s engagement with probation had been interrupted by a prison sentence for a “totally unrelated matter”.

McMillan was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for three years, on all the charges to run concurrently, bar the charge of possession of criminal property which was left on the books.

The unrelated matter referred to by Judge Ramsey was, in fact, a raft of animal cruelty offences for which he was jailed for five months last September.

He found himself before Lisburn Magistrates Court after police discovered 10 dogs being held in horrendous conditions at a farm near Royal Hillsborough while raiding the premises on a drugs warrant last April.

One of the terriers was so badly injured it had to have its jaw surgically rebuilt while another had its nose missing.

The raid on the farmyard on the Drumlough Road, between Royal Hillsborough and Anahilt, found a combined total of more than 100 tablets of Pregablin (also known as Lyrica) and Temazepam along with just under £4,400 in cash.

A prosecution lawyer told his sentencing hearing many of the dogs had active infections, with one found with a hole between the inside of its mouth and the outside of its chin which appeared to be a recent wound.

Another had its lip ripped off by force, a second had a staple lodged in its head in a suspected attempt to hold a tissue wound closed and another was missing its nose.

The lawyer added there was no evidence of any of the dogs being given treatment or pain relief, with one of the animals found with injuries that would cause pain “with every lick and bite”.

She added that all of the dogs had since been re-homed except for two which were stolen from the sanctuary where they were being held.

When asked by District Judge Rosie Watters what caused the “horrendous” injuries, an animal welfare officer from the local council said they were caused by hunting but couldn’t say for certain if they were caused by foxes or badgers.

McMillan’s barrister said he claims the injuries were sustained by hunting foxes and not badger baiting and said he has since expressed “genuine remorse” for what happened to the dogs.

In addition to jailing him for five months, Judge Watters also ordered him to pay a total of £6,048 in council costs.

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