Callous Milton Keynes dog smugglers threw dead pup's body away in a bin bag, court hears
The dogs were shipped from Ireland and riddled with disease when they were sold
The 14 Milton Keynes people facing large-scale puppy smuggling charges sold dogs in disgusting conditions, a court has heard.
Six members of the same family are among the 14 defendants at Aylesbury Crown Court this week, all charged with being involved in secretly transported dogs across the Irish sea and selling under false name to new owners from 'frontman' addresses in MK.
But the pup were so riddled with disease that some did not even make it to be sold, while others died after their new owners had bought them.
Aylesbury Crown Court was shown text messages between two of the defendants - a mother and son - saying a 'pup died'.
The mum asked 'What did Dan do wiv dead pup Jim?' and is told 'Rubbish sack mum'.
The defendants include family members Margaret Cawley, John Cawley, Joseph Cawley senior, Joseph Cawley junior, Michael Cawley and Annalise Cawley.
Alongside them appear John and Mary O'Brien, Daniel and James Yeboah, Mary Ward, Austin Paice, and Rebecca Hall.
All the Cawleys, except for Joseph Cawley Jnr, admit conspiring to dishonestly making false representation to make a gain for themselves. Daniel and James Yeboah also admit the same charge. See the Citizen story here.
Yesterday defence barristers said that despite making hundreds of thousands of pounds by selling dogs in disgusting conditions, the defendants were only doing it to support their families.
Barrister Laban Leke told the court that his client Michael Cawley, one of the ring leaders of the conspiracy, had only got involved in the elaborate scheme to help make ends meet, not to make himself rich.
He said: "If he was driving around in flashy cars and going on holiday that would be one type of offence. When you are doing it to support your family that has a different type of resonance."
Mr Leke added that his client cannot read or write and has battled to keep his family afloat.
However, after Judge Sheridan had heard similar mitigation from a number of barristers, he blasted back at them: "This is trading in misery, is anyone going to have the courage to say that in mitigation?"
The judge added: "This is a miserable business and I have got to do what I can to deter these offenders and others who might take part in this activity.
"They were trading in misery and while I have to think of their welfare, now looking to the future I will be putting the welfare of the animals on that level."
Other barristers detailed how a number of the defendants had suffered from significant health issues in the past, including 49-year-old John O'Brien who is waiting for a heart bypass operation.
Judge Sheridan also heard applications from the O'Brien's and Rebecca Hall for permission to keep their other pets, despite the possibility of orders being handed out which would ban them from keeping animals.
Mary O'Brien and her husband John have a dog called Sandy while Hall has two dogs of her own, as well as two guinea pigs, two turtles and a cat, all of which could be removed from her.
Earlier, the court heard text messages exchanged between the Yeboah brothers, talking about how they had been making money off the dogs and acknowledging the deplorable conditions the dogs were being kept in.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens said: "Extracts of conversations on a phone show the variety and volume of puppy sales with comments like 'dogs will keep flowing now' and 'dog at 1.30 , another at 2'.
"There is evidence that the sellers know that the dogs are ill, 'Hope they take the pug, did the pug eat anything?' and 'she got a bad stomach' and 'pug still got runs, bath her, talc her'.
"Further interactions show the discussions regarding cost - 'been stitched up a bit on the big money one Jim, I knew it but Joe has explained properly where things went wrong and I accept it .. sold first one though..' and “'just waiting for the next one, should be any minute'.
"The reply asks 'what happened with the money for the first pup?' and to that the answer came 'I think the minute he got charged nearly £400 each on this lot instead of £260, coupled with the fact they’re barely moving..'
"Messages shows puppies selling daily and several a day," she said.
The lengthy sentencing hearing is expected to conclude later today.