North West Wales

Anglesey port puppy smuggler Ben Illidge sentenced

Puppies rescued at Holyhead Port Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Some of the puppies were rescued as part of a police operation at Holyhead Port

A man has been sentenced for trying to smuggle 35 puppies through an Anglesey ferry port from Ireland.

Ben Illidge, 33, from Northwich, Cheshire, admitted seven animal regulation and welfare offences.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard the puppies were in "overcrowded cages" on 15 November last year.

Illidge was given an 18-week suspended jail term and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and pay a £1,600 fine plus £1,313 in court costs.

The court heard there were Labradors, terriers, beagles, spaniels and Pomeranians - aged between six and nine weeks - in five cages stacked in the back of a "very hot" van, with no ventilation, searched at Holyhead.

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The RSPCA believes thousands of unsuspecting people buy puppies which have been imported

District judge Gwyn Jones said: "This was a money-making venture.

"Hopefully it may make you and others understand attempting to avoid these regulations will not pay."

Police, border force, RSPCA and other officials had conducted an operation against the illegal movement of animals.

The court heard Illidge had planned to sell the animals after buying them in an Irish market and he was "naive".

Sarah Yates, defending, said the puppies had not been in the van more than a few hours and were "in good health".

Ian Briggs, chief inspector of the RSPCA's special operations unit, said agencies would not "stand by while unscrupulous puppy dealers seek to make a quick buck while subjecting innocent, defenceless puppies to misery".

He said: "Sadly, many well-meaning, but unsuspecting new owners are buying pups who have been imported in such shocking conditions, which merely fuels those seeking to treat the lives of young animals as a means to raking in murky profits."