Saturday, November 10, 2007

Top Labour Councillor left dog to die in agony

Senior city councillor Paul Shotton has been convicted of animal cruelty after leaving his family's 13-year-old pet labrador to die while he went on holiday with his wife.

The 47-year-old, city council portfolio holder for public safety, pictured, was convicted alongside his wife Annette, aged 45, of causing unnecessary suffering to Baron, between June 24 and July 15 last year.

Sentencing the couple, deputy district judge John Maxwell told them: "You two have committed a despicable crime.

"You left an old family friend in your yard to die while you went on holiday - no doubt hoping it would all be over by the time you got back."

Shotton's 25-year-old son Gavin, of Alma Street, Fenton, had earlier been cleared of the same charge after his case was thrown out.

North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court had heard that on July 15, RSPCA inspector Julie Lyons had been called to the Shottons' home at Smithpool Road, in Fenton, at about 9.45pm.

The house was empty as the Shottons had gone on holiday earlier that day leaving their son to look after Baron.

Ms Lyons looked over a neighbour's fence and saw Baron lying on his side in the garden.

The court heard how she found the underside of Baron soaked in urine and that he was bony.

He also had open sores on his elbow and mouth and appeared to be dehydrated.

Paul Shotton told the court that Baron had not been ill when the family had left for their three-week holiday.

When shown photographs of the dog taken two days later at Willow Veterinary Clinic in Endon, and The Croft Veterinary Clinic in Newcastle, he said: "He did not look like that when we left him.

"I didn't see any sores or urine scalding on his body."

Judge Maxwell yesterday gave the Shottons two-year conditional discharges. They are banned from keeping dogs for the same period, and were told to pay the RSPCA £3,000 costs.

The judge said: "I am satisfied that dog was obviously ill and in distress at the time the defendants went on their holiday.

"They just simply left that dog to suffer.

"In my judgement they have reasonably omitted to take any remedial steps by way of treatment, keeping it clean or having it euthanised."

Shotton and his wife are appealing against their conviction.

After the case, he said: "I am absolutely appalled at the verdict.

"We will automatically be appealing against this decision and will simultaneously be asking for a judicial review concerning the powers of the RSPCA."

Should Paul Shotton continue as a councillor with a criminal record?


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