Milton Keynes family faces jail for smuggling and selling sick puppies to unsuspecting buyers

The pups were transported from Ireland and riddled with disease

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 4:10 pm

A family who masterminded an international puppy smuggling ring and stored the dogs in shocking conditions are today facing jail.

A judge heard how members of the Cawley family from Milton Keynes secretly transported dogs across the Irish sea and sold them to new owners.

But some were so riddled with disease that they could not survive, Aylesbury Crown court was told.

14 people face charges involving illegal puppy smuggling

The animals were being given to their new owners soaked in urine, with burns on their bodies and riddled with fleas.

Prosecutor Hazel Stevens revealed that excited new owners were horrified when their adorable new pets started being sick before they even got them home.

Judge Francis Sheridan heard how the Cawleys used frontman Daniel Yeboah, aged 45, to place numerous adverts under false names before luring unsuspecting families into buying the puppies - often out of pity for the conditions in which they were being kept.

Mrs Stevens said: "Many people purchasing a puppy, naturally became excited and invested time and emotion as well as money into their puppy. They chose a name and planned the arrival of their new family member and were left devastated when the puppy was sick and in some cases died.

"The use of these animals as a commodity without care for their welfare and for the effect on the purchasers and children in their family, is something that the RSPCA, other animal welfare charities and the government have been working very hard to stop."

Fourteen defendants are in court charged with conspiring to dishonestly making false representation to make a gain for themselves. They include family members Margaret Cawley, John Cawley, Joseph Cawley senior, Joseph Cawley junior, Michael Cawley and Annalise Cawley.

Alongside them appeared John and Mary O'Brien, Daniel and James Yeboah, Mary Ward, Austin Paice, and Rebecca Hall.

All the Cawley's, except for Joseph Cawley Jnr, admitted conspiring to dishonestly making false representation to make a gain for themselves. Daniel and James Yeboah also admitted the same charge.

The court heard at length how the complex ring involved the Cawley family supplying puppies to frontmen such as Daniel Yeboah, James Yeboah, John and Mary O'Brien and Rebecca Hall.

It was believed the scheme had made £300,000 from the sale of puppies.

Judge Sheridan told the assembled barristers: "It is part of the British way of life to love dogs and cats.

"In this case, the owners carried on buying even the sick dogs because they thought they were rescuing them. It is the nice side of being British and that is what was being preyed upon.

"I cannot put a price on that."

The shocking abuse of the puppies was laid out before the court. An audibly emotional Mrs Stevens read out a heartbreaking statement from new owner Kimberley Duffy, who had brought her Shih Tzu puppy Barnaby from the swindlers.

She said: "When I went to see Barnaby and heard he was being bullied by another dog, I instantly decided to take him home. I then decided to surprise my partner at work with Barnaby on her lunch break and video her reaction.

"She was extremely excited and surprised he was an early Christmas present. When the children came home that evening, they too were extremely excited and we all bonded with him instantly."

However, the court heard how their dream puppy soon turned into a nightmare, as Barnaby became ill soon after he arrived home and after a visit to the vet, Ms Duffy and her partner ended up staying up through the night to feed him.

The prosecutor explained what happened next: "Myself and my partner stayed up all night with Barnaby, giving hourly food, fluids and medication. By 4.30am we decided on one more dose and then allowed him to rest.

"Being exhausted ourselves we fell asleep. At 7.15am on Thursday, October 24, 2019 we were awoken by the traumatic cries of our 11-year-old son who had been into our room and found Barnaby no longer breathing.

"Myself and my partner tried in vain to revive him while our children looked on traumatised and heartbroken. At 7.34am we decided to stop trying. We both broke down in tears, absolutely devastated that our little fur baby hadn’t survived despite our desperate tireless efforts to do all we could."

The court heard that with vet bills and the price of buying Barnaby from the Cawley's the Duffy's lost more than £1,300.

Ms Duffy said: "We feel utter anger, frustration and are furious at the lies we were told by the seller, the sheer neglect and trauma Barnaby suffered at the hands of these vile people.

"The events that took place on that morning, the screams and the devastation from our children and the loss and heartbreak will forever haunt us and is irreparable."

The couple's six-year-old son Beaux said: "I feel really sad that Barnaby died, and I feel angry at his old owners because they didn’t feed him and look after him like we did. I really miss Barnaby and wish he was still at home with us, I just want Barnaby back."

Mrs Stevens explained another case to Judge Sheridan. She said: "Matthew Smith and his girlfriend saw an advert for a German Shepherd puppy in January 2020. They contacted the seller and were messaged back by a different number and arranged to go and see the puppy at Whaddon Way, Milton Keynes.

"Upon arrival at the premises, they were met by Daniel Yeboah and shown the puppy they named “Bear”. The puppy was sold to them with a vaccination card which also contained the microchip number. They paid £500 for Bear and took him home with the paperwork.

"Bear was soon unwell and having taken him to the vet, Mr Smith discovered he was much younger than he was said to have been, he weighed less than half of what he should, he didn’t have a microchip and his vaccination card was a fake.

"As Bear grew it became apparent that he was not even a German Shepherd dog."

The court heard that the unscrupulous breeders were profiting from the lucrative puppy trade, with an estimated 300,000 puppies sold illegally in the UK each year, lining the pockets of cruel puppy farmers.

Mrs Stevens explained how the Cawley's had used their Irish roots to muscle in on the trade. She said: "The Cawley family home in Ireland is in Mullacreevie Park, Co Armagh.

"A vehicle seen delivering puppies on the CCTV at 76 Kirkwood Grove, Medbourne, Milton Keynes, is registered to John Christopher Cawley at Mullacreevie Park.

"Another vehicle seen delivering puppies at 76 Kirkwood Grove has travelled with Stena Line from Ireland to England and back with passengers named as Cawley.

"It is therefore the case that the conspirators were involved in various ways, breeding puppies both in Ireland and England, transporting them and keeping them at places other than where they were born.

"They were unlawfully bred and illegally transported, documents were falsified to enable the sale of the puppies."

During the hearing, Judge Sheridan railed against Parliament for not allowing him to use the law to redistribute money to the pet owners who have lost thousands of pounds.

The judge said: "I want to do my utmost to recover the expenses of very vulnerable people who are buying these puppies. The police are not funded so I can do nothing.

"Members of the public would be appalled that the court is in this position, this is something that needs to be addressed by Parliament."

Barristers for the defendants are expected to advance mitigation for the defendants over the coming days.

The case continues.