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cruelty charges Sister of woman convicted of cruelty also charged with the mistreatment of her two dogs

Claire Lines joins her sister Christina — both from Larne — as being convicted of cruelty to their own family pets after being taken to court by the same council.

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Nabbed: Claire Lines shows us a picture which includes the two Staffies, Jack and Jock

Nabbed: Claire Lines shows us a picture which includes the two Staffies, Jack and Jock

We confront Christina Lines in November

We confront Christina Lines in November

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Nabbed: Claire Lines shows us a picture which includes the two Staffies, Jack and Jock

The gobby sister of a woman convicted of dog cruelty last year has herself been convicted of mistreating her own dogs.

Claire Lines joins her sister Christina — both from Larne — as being convicted of cruelty to their own family pets after being taken to court by the same council.

Cocky Claire contested the cruelty charges against her Staffordshire bull terriers Jack and Jock at Ballymena Magistrates Court this week.

But a judge described her as a liar who told so many different stories “she couldn’t remember her own lies”.

Jack, it emerged, had more than 70 bites and puncture wounds to his body.

Claire Lines contacted this paper at the time of her dogs being seized in January 2020 to complain about the actions of the council.

She even started a petition on social media which gained hundreds of supporters.

Bills

Last November the Sunday World confronted her sister Christina at her home in Larne after she was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure the welfare of her two dogs, a pomeranian known as Poppy and a Jack Russell cross called Odie.

She was ordered by a court to fork out £1,400 in fines, vet bills and costs after she was prosecuted.

After we had spoken to Christina — who had at least pleaded guilty — we received an angry call from Claire warning us not to run any story about her sister.

Clearly irate, she calmed down and hung up the phone when we asked her about her own charges of dog cruelty — clearly thinking we weren’t aware she had decided to contest her case.

And after our story appeared, Claire left voice messages threatening to take legal action, which never materialised.

Now Claire has had her own ‘dog day afternoon’ in court where she was torn apart in the witness box for telling lies, and may now wish she’d just pleaded guilty like her sister.

The case also marks an odd coincidence, with Claire being the third person living in Larne convicted of cruelty to dogs in the space of three months.

Last week we exposed dog killer Michael McAllister, who was jailed for bludgeoning a tiny pet chihuahua to death just to shut it up from barking.

This week, while describing the evidence of the vet as “credible”, District Judge Nigel Broderick told the court that Claire Lines, while giving evidence, “had the look of someone caught in the headlights” whenever she was being subjected to “expert cross-examination” to expose her lies.

Lines, from the Circular Road in the harbour town, was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the brindle Staffy called Jack and black and white Staffy Jock on September 18, 2019.

Wounds

The court heard that Lines carried Jock into a vet in Larne claiming he had been attacked by a Labrador. She had covered the wounds in Sudocrem that she happened to have in her handbag.

Horrified staff at the vet contacted the council animal welfare officer when they shaved Jock to treat his wounds and uncovered multiple scrapes, puncture wounds and bite marks.

According to an expert report, Jock had multiple wounds and scrapes, both old and fresh.

So horrific was the dog’s condition the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) ordered Jock to be seized and Lines signed him over, but in the aftermath she began an online petition and gave an interview to this paper lambasting the council for seizing her other supposedly beloved Staffy Jack.

He was seized when the AWO discovered up to 70 bite and puncture wounds to his face, chest and legs and again, the wounds were both fresh and old.

Fighting

Claire Lines repeated her lying account under oath from the witness box but, coupled with medical evidence proving more than half of Jack’s wounds were old, it transpired that Lines had written to an animal charity complaining Jack and Jock had been fighting.

While Lines told defence barrister Michael Smyth the two dogs “only had a barking match,” a claim which she also made to her local council, the prosecuting barrister revealed that Lines had written an email to an animal rehoming charity saying: “Long story short, my two Staffies have been fighting flat out for two weeks — I don’t know what to do any more.”

But Lines claimed in court: “I didn’t say that, I never said that, the council is lying,” further claiming that she lied to the animal charity in order to get help.

“Why would you need help if the dogs were not fighting?” enquired the PPS barrister, but Lines had no answer.

Convicting Lines of animal cruelty, Judge Broderick said he was satisfied the dogs had been fighting “and the injuries were not treated” which therefore caused them unnecessary suffering.

Freeing Lines on bail, he said he would pass sentence on March 24 when a pre-sentence probation report had been written about her.

Last November her sister Christina had accepted charges of causing unnecessary suffering and told the Sunday World when we confronted her she “deeply regretted” what happened to her dogs.

Christina (40) said she “loved the dogs completely” but said she had struggled financially for a period and couldn’t afford vet bills and had no pet insurance.

According to the council, the pets were in a terrible state when they were found.

Poppy the pomeranian had a 10cm tumour growth on her abdomen which was rupturing, her nails were grossly overgrown due to lack of wear and she had fleas.

The breed of the second dog, Odie, was difficult to identify due to

severe chronic hair loss and a skin condition, known as lichenification, which was all over his body and was accompanied with blackening, resembling elephant skin.

A remorseful Christina told us at the time: “I loved those dogs completely but I fell on hard times. I had to quit my job at a primary school because people were threatening to picket my place of work.

“I wasn’t beating the dogs or anything like that, I just didn’t have the money to look after them properly.”

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

Sunday World


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