A Uttoxeter man who dishonestly posed as a registered vet as part of a sophisticated illegal puppy farming operation has been spared an immediate jail sentence.

Kelvin Brown has now been sentenced after admitting signing fake vaccination certificates as part of the fraudulent business.

In December, he pleaded guilty to unlawfully using a practitioner’s title and three charges of making a false document.

And, on Wednesday, February 28, he was handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, at Stoke on Trent Crown Court.

Ginny was one of the dogs sold

That means the 33-year-old could serve four months behind bars if he is found guilty of another crime in the next year-and-a-half.

Brown, of Heathfield Road, must also carry out 400 hours of unpaid work.

Accomplice Lucy Guntripp, 21, had already been sentenced to an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for a year, for her part in the operation.

Guntripp, of Trippyhills Farm, Stramshall, was also ordered to pay court costs, compensation and fines totalling more than £3,250.

She pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business when she appeared alongside Brown at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in December.

At that hearing, prosecutor Lucy Daniels said the operation had put the puppies sold "at risk of infection and disease".

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Guntripp was sentenced at the Newcastle under Lyme court in January.

One of the dogs she sold was a border terrier called Ginny, who was stolen from a back garden in Burton in 2015.

She was reunited with her family in 2016 after vets scanned her microchip and identified her.