Uxbridge vet Daniel Doherty jailed for helping puppy gang
A vet has been jailed for helping fraudsters who conned unsuspecting dog-lovers into buying sick and dying puppies.
Daniel Doherty was initially spared jail after being convicted in April of conspiracy to commit fraud.
But Court of Appeal judges found his suspended sentence "unduly lenient" and jailed him for three-and-a-half years.
The gang is estimated to have made about £2.5m selling about 5,000 dogs from addresses in west London.
Doherty was a "hard-working" vet who clients praised for his devotion to animals.
But the 50-year-old from Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, helped the gang to con customers into thinking seriously ill puppies were healthy.
The puppies were illegally imported from Ireland before being taken to the defendants' homes where they were kept in plastic sheds, outbuildings and garages.
Doherty helped sales by providing certificates which suggested the puppies were healthy and bred locally.
Several of the dogs rescued by the RSPCA died or had to be put down.
One family in Feltham said they had to have their new puppy put down days after bringing it home in February 2016.
Vets discovered that cavalier King Charles spaniel, Charlie, had parvovirus.
Mr Justice Holroyde said at the Court of Appeal on Thursday that Doherty, who operated in Uxbridge, west London, was a "professional man who played a vital role in this wicked conspiracy".
The court also increased the sentences handed to three other gang members.
- Edward Stokes, 35, of Bedfont, Feltham, was originally given a two-year suspended sentence but has now been sent to prison for four years and eight months.
- His brother Thomas Stokes, 26, of Hayes, had his three-year jail term increased to four years and eight months.
- Simon O'Donnell, 30, of Uxbridge, had his two-year sentence doubled.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland, who referred the cases to the Court of Appeal, said he hoped the ruling would "bring some comfort" to the fraudsters' victims.
"This group not only subjected thousands of puppies to atrocious living conditions, but also caused immense distress to families who had to watch their new pets suffer from serious illness," he added.