Convictions upheld after owner’s High Court bid fails

Created: 02/05/2012

A WOMAN found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to seven dogs has failed in her High Court challenge against her convictions.
Margaret Lamont-Perkins, 67, of Cedar Lodge, Avening, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, was prosecuted by the RSPCA after they seized eight of her 14 dogs, one of whom died later from an unrelated disease.
She was convicted at Gloucester Crown Court in June 2010 of five charges involving failing to feed seven of the animals properly – four Great Danes, two English Springer Spaniels and a Dachshund – in a case said at the time to have run up a legal bill of more than £56,000.
A charge relating to another Great Dane was dismissed.

Small pension

The RSPCA was called in by Lamont-Perkins’ daughter who had visited her and was concerned about the state of the dogs. The defendant argued that she could not afford to feed all the dogs on her small pension.
But lawyers for Lamont-Perkins, who denied ill-treating the dogs, argued in the High Court that the prosecution was brought too late – outside the six-month period in which such magistrates’ court prosecutions must be started – and that in those circumstances she should never have been convicted by magistrates at Coleford. Although a certificate to extend the time had also been put forward, it was wrong to allow the RSPCA to do that, since the Society is not a ‘prosecutor’ within the meaning of the Animal Welfare Act, they claimed.
However, last week in London two of the country’s top judges, Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Wynn Williams, dismissed her appeal.
Mr Justice Wynn Williams said: "There is no material available to this court which persuades me that there is a possibility that the proceedings brought by (the RSPCA) against the appellant were issued outside the time limit prescribed in section 31910 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
"In those circumstances, it is appropriate that the convictions recorded against the appellant should be upheld.”
The question of additional legal costs accrued in the appeal proceedings, which will be substantial it is understood, will be dealt with a later date.