AN animal rescue centre boss has been found guilty of six counts of causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
Lindsay Newell, 27, of Lincoln Road, Stapenhill, faced a total of 31 counts, to which she pleaded not guilty.
A judge at Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard evidence over five days and yesterday returned his verdict at Burton Magistrates’ Court.
She was cleared of 25 of the charges.
Newell, who broke down in tears as she confirmed her name to the Horninglow Street courthouse, was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and must pay £2,000 in costs.
She was also banned from keeping sheep, goats, pigs and equines – ponies, donkeys or horses – for five years.
District judge David Taylor told her: “I have no doubt that you were strongly motivated by the need to care for animals. I am also under no doubt that you placed yourself under considerable pressures both financially and in terms of time.
“By November 2012 you had simply taken on too much and became unable to identify which animals needed more care.”
He said Newell had taken on animals that she had little or no experience of caring for.
“There was a range of animals. You were in charge of all of them,” he said. “Some of them died. The aggravating feature is that you chose to take these animals on, so you are culpable.”
He said that in giving her evidence, Newell had appeared confident when speaking about four piglets but had seemed less confident when asked about the animals that had died. He said: “I conclude that while she believed what she was saying was true, she could not allow herself to consider the possibility that she has not provided adequate care.”
The charges for which she was found guilty included causing unnecessary suffering to a pig called Babe by failing to explore its weight loss. The other five guilty verdicts were similar but related to a ewe, a lamb, a pony and a goat.
Speaking about the lamb, Judge Taylor said: “The overwhelming evidence was that the lamb was emaciated and that it had only ever been in the care of Miss Newell. This was a lamb that was in need of attention.”
He said he had no doubt Newell had been strongly motivated by her need to care for the animals, but failed to see some occurrences that should have been obvious to her.
Dingle Clark, for the RSPCA, said the case had cost £7,000.
Newell still runs the rescue centre in Etwall where there are currently animals including eight cats, two hens, 200 pigeons, 100 chickens, 18 rabbits and a pig.
Newell’s defence solicitor, Nigel Weller, said his client was clearly fulfilling a need in the community and now had six people helping her.
He said: “She is the leading light and has devoted many years of her life to the centre.”
Judge Taylor asked how the centre was funded now Newell no longer had a job. Mr Weller said the centre was run on donations.
When passing sentence, Judge Taylor described it as a ‘very unusual case’.