Man kept cats in 'squalid' conditions

These shocking pictures show the appalling state in which 23 cats were forced to live in a bungalow near Watton.

These shocking pictures show the appalling state in which 23 cats were forced to live in a bungalow near Watton.

The images were shown to magistrates sitting at Swaffham yesterday where David Tilley, 55, of Woodlands, Ashill, pleaded guilty to charges relating to causing unnecessary suffering and also failing to meet the welfare needs of his cats.

The court heard from the RSPCA prosecution lawyer Jonathan Eales how David Podmore, an RSPCA inspector, had discovered the situation on January 14.

In total Tilley pleaded guilty to 21 offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

He was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and pay full costs of �5,179 which included prosecution costs, vets bills and boarding fees.

Mr Eales explained to the court that had all of the cats been removed from the bungalow at the same time there would have been three charges in total, but because the RSPCA had needed to return to the bungalow a number of times to find all of the animals, the three initial charges were repeated for each group of cats that were found.

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These three charges were failing to provide the cats with a suitable environment that was hygienic and free from hazards, failing to ensure the animals were protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease as a result of failing to control a flea infestation, and not ensuring that the cats were able to express their normal behaviour.

Mr Eales said when Mr Podmore arrived at the bungalow he found that the hallway was about a foot deep in faeces, cans and rubbish, and he saw one of the cats walking over the debris. He said the front rooms were also in a similar state to the hallway.

When Mr Podmore forced the front door open he discovered underneath the debris was a black liquid and he was hit by the stench of ammonia and decay.

A vet's report said many of the cats were suffering from mild dermatitis and many of them were also soaked in urine and faeces, and carrying fleas.

Sally Dale, defending Tilley, said his life had been on a downward decline and spiral since his wife had died of cancer 17 years ago.

She said Tilley was an animal lover who had had animals all of his life, and she said Tilley had decided to give a home to two feral cats after the cats he had had with his wife died, and that the rest of the cats had come from these two cats.

She said the animals were always fed, that there was no deliberate attempt to cause them suffering, and that at the time the RSPCA inspector called at his home Tilley had no concept of how bad things had got.

She said the property was now being completely gutted and refurbished.

Elizabeth Hornegold, chairman of the bench, said Tilley had kept the cats in what could only be described as a disgraceful and squalid situation.

She said the pictures the bench were shown were among some of the worst pictures the bench had ever seen, and that while it was not known how long the cats had been shut in the bungalow it was clearly a significant period of time.

The only mitigating factor she said was that Tilley had not starved the cats.