Puppy farmer jailed for selling sick pets
A puppy farmer who had the audacity to sell sick pets while already on bail for the same crime has been jailed.
Grace Banks (29) had previously run a puppy farm with her brother Julian King — earning up to £35,000 every week.
But as she awaited punishment for that last year — and sent the judge a letter expressing her remorse — she continued to sell often severely ill puppies to unsuspecting families for up to £600.
Two victims even became ill after catching stomach diseases from their new pets.
It meant that she emerged from a five-month jail sentence in time to stand trial for new offences of animal cruelty, unlicensed pet-selling and fraud.
Prosecuting, Hazel Stevens told how Banks tricked families into believing the tiny pups were healthy pedigrees — when in fact they were often sick or dying.
She was caught by the RSPCA after a raid at her £850-a-month address in Buckstones Road, Shaw, Greater Manchester, in April 2015.
Inspectors found a dead puppy in the boot of her Mercedes Benz which was said to have suffered days of agony.
A probe revealed she’d rented addresses in Oldham, Rochdale and Littleborough and even changed her name from Lilly Cooper by deed poll to cover
Appearing at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court in a black leather bomber, she was jailed for nine months by Judge Jeffrey Lewis.
Describing the puppies she sold as “flee-ridden, diseased and a risk to human health”, he added: “This was well planned, sophisticated.
“The goal of this enterprise was maximum financial gain and you were the one benefitting from
Insisting Banks was remorseful, Marianne Alton, defending, said: “Miss Banks is no saint and she may have made plenty of mistakes in her life but she wants to move forward and step away from criminality.”
She said her client had faced the “agony” of being released from prison only to appear before the courts again.
Mr Lewis was critical of a “prosecution, defence, RSPCA and GMP” blunder which led to the crown court not being made aware of a second ongoing investigation when he jailed Banks in December last year.
He said if he had known, the cases would have been combined for sentence.
But he reminded Banks, of Reed Street, Gorton, that she had pleaded not guilty to her second enterprise despite “overwhelming” evidence against her.
He jailed her for nine months and imposed a lifetime ban on keeping or selling animals.