Co Down animal trader spared jail after being caught transporting 44 dogs in cruel conditions

Ballynahinch man Aaron Phillips (39) was made to forfeit more than £20k cash found on his arrest

Animal transporter Aaron Phillips

Paula MackinSunday World

Cruel animal trader Aaron Phillips was behind bars last week after being caught transporting dogs in the most brutal of conditions.

The Ballynahinch man received a prison sentence and forced to forfeit £20k after he was caught in Redditch, England transporting 44 dogs in unbelievably cruel conditions, in cramped, filthy cages.

Phillips pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to animals and was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old, of Riverside Meadows, Ballynahinch, received an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12-months, was ordered to pay costs and was disqualified from transporting or arranging the transportation of any animal for three years.

He was also made to forfeit more than £20k cash found by police on his arrest under The Proceeds of Crime Act.

Forty-four dogs were seized by West Mercia Police officers from two vehicles in Bordesley Lane, Redditch, on Tuesday December 8, 2020.

Phillips had transported the dogs, which were predominantly from Northern Ireland, and stopped in Redditch to offload 16 of them - 14 of which were puppies.

The 44 dogs, 28 of which were puppies, were in just 12 cages. The majority were not big enough for even one dog to travel in.

Some of the dogs were unable to stand up, sit or turn around and the floors of all cages were covered in a thin layer of sawdust which smelt of urine and faeces.

Police Community Support Officer Katie Hearnden Fellows said the animals were discovered due to the West Mercia Police neighbourhood alert system: "All the animals were seized under the Animal Welfare Act, and West Mercia took civil action against the owners of the dogs being transported.

"There were two civil court cases, which saw West Mercia successfully retain all but two of the dogs seized.

"The remaining dogs were also re-homed through the Dogs Trust or with the help of foster carers within West Mercia Police, many of whom retained the dogs once court cases were concluded."

Three other men arrested on suspicion of theft and later released on police bail were not charged.

Professional dog transporter Aaron Phillips, who traded under the name AP Canine Transport, was prosecuted by the CPS in co-operation with animal welfare officers from Belfast City Council.

He was found guilty of moving puppies under eight-weeks-old and which were not fit for the journey or in the company of their mother, according to court papers.

He was also charged with moving the pups in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering and transporting 21 puppies/dogs without carrying documentation.

He was further charged with transporting a springer spaniel which was not fit for the journey and of moving dogs without authorisation from the competent authority.

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