North West Wales

Animal ban stays on Damien French after zoo rabbit cruelty case

Damien French pictured in 2007
Image caption Magistrates said French had 'flagrantly breached' his ban

A man who once threw a live rabbit to a zoo alligator has failed in a bid to have a ban on keeping animals lifted.

Magistrates at Llandudno rejected the application by Damien French, 26, of Dyserth, Denbighshire

They said he had previously "flagrantly breached" a 10-year order banning him from keeping animals.

He received a suspended jail sentence in 2006 for the incident with the rabbit at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, Conwy county.

He had taken the rabbit from an area for children to stroke animals at the zoo and fed it to the alligator.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that in November 2010 French breached the order after police found two hamsters and two bearded dragons at his home, although the animals appeared in good health. He also bred rats.

In May the same year an RSPCA inspector saw two cats, a bearded dragon, three lizards, 15 rats and two hamsters at a property where French lived.

Craig Hutchinson, representing French, told the court on Tuesday that his client had been 19 at the time of the incident with the rabbit.

"It was a significant and infamous event that attracted an awful amount of attention and something that has haunted Mr French ever since.

"It was a single incident of a young man perhaps who didn't have the full capacity of a 19-year-old."

Mr Hutchinson added that none of his more recent convictions involved animal cruelty.

French lives with his pregnant partner and he works voluntarily for the Red Cross, he said.

"It's not Mr French's intention to run to the pet shop and buy some animals. He wishes to put all this behind him," Mr Hutchinson added.

Refusing the application, court chairman Nick Rushbrooke said it was impossible to ignore the nature of the first offence, nor the record of convictions since the first ban was imposed.

"Mr French has flagrantly breached the order and kept a variety of animals. We see no reason to revoke the order," he added.

More on this story