Merseyside father and son sentenced after starving dog to death over weeks

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A father and son from Merseyside have been handed suspended prison sentences after allowing a dog to starve to death. Cassie, a bull terrier type dog, was found dead 'with every bone visible through her fur' at the home of Raymond Warren and his son Reece Williamson in Hildebrand Close, Walton, in July last year.

At a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court last Tuesday (January 30), Williamson, 24, was handed a 23-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting to failing to provide Cassie with adequate nutrition.

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Warren, 64, was given six-weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months, after pleading guilty to breaching a five-year disqualification order on keeping animals, imposed by the same court in November 2020. Both defendants were also banned from keeping animals for ten years.

Cassie was found dead in a house in Walton.Cassie was found dead in a house in Walton.
Cassie was found dead in a house in Walton. | RSPCA

The court heard that RSPCA Inspector Lisa Lupson had been asked to collect Cassie’s body from a vet on July 24, after the dog had been taken there by police officers who’d found her deceased in the kitchen of the property the day before.

In written evidence to the court, Ms Lupson said: “I was shocked to see the condition of the dog inside the bag. Cassie was a brown coloured, female, bull terrier type dog, she was in an emaciated condition with every bone visible through her fur."

A post-mortem report, carried out for the RSPCA, showed Cassie’s gastrointestinal tract was empty. It concluded that her poor body condition was most likely due to starvation through a lack of access to food, with no pathological cause of emaciation evident. 

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The vet who provided written evidence in the case and gave Cassie a body score condition of only one out of nine, said: “I would expect a responsible owner to seek veterinary attention should their pet become underweight and to protect their animal from ingesting foreign material and seek veterinary advice if this had knowingly occurred." They said that Cassie had ingested 'non-food material' showing 'she still had an appetite, hunger and willingness to eat'.

Every bone was visible through her fur.Every bone was visible through her fur.
Every bone was visible through her fur. | RSPCA

“She will have felt weakness and debilitation having a severe lack of energy. This will have been uncomfortable and severely impacted her everyday life, ability to ambulate, to obtain food or water and play. The duration of these failings will be a minimum of several days but is more likely to be for a period of weeks looking at the evidence presented," the vet said.

In a police interview Williamson, who was also ordered to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days, said Cassie didn’t eat properly and needed medication. He said he was too scared to take her to the vet and admitted he hadn’t done the right thing.

Warren, who was given 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days, told police that Cassie had only lived with them for a few months but he didn’t know where she had come from. He said he hadn’t seen the dog for one to two weeks and wasn’t aware of her poor condition. Both men, who now live on Winter Grove, St Helens, were also ordered to pay a £154 victim surcharge.

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Cassie was found in July 2023.Cassie was found in July 2023.
Cassie was found in July 2023. | RSPCA

Speaking after the case had concluded, Inspector Lupson said: “Cassie’s emaciated body was a sad and shocking sight. She had clearly been neglected for many weeks and veterinary assistance should clearly have been sought.

"Mr Warren also knew he was disqualified from keeping animals and there is a clear reason why breaches are imposed by the courts - they are there to protect animals from people who have been convicted under the Animal Welfare Act. We are grateful to the police for their assistance with this case, which was extremely upsetting for everyone involved.”  Another dog at the Walton property, which was not part of the RSPCA investigation, was taken into the care of the police.