A dad who sold ‘conveyor belt’ dogs from his puppy farm but pretended they were family pets has been jailed for nine months.
Leigh Hancock, 34, told people that the Labrador, Retriever and Collie puppies he sold were the result of his own dog becoming accidentally pregnant.
But he was in fact breeding puppies commercially in a hidden building behind his home in Gloucestershire.
The father-of-three admitted nine trading standards false description offences and one of possessing criminal property.
The court heard Hancock ‘blitzed’ social media with adverts for puppies and used a variety of different names and contact numbers to avoid suspicion.
Prosecutor Rosamund Rutter described it as a ‘conveyor belt of puppies, in poor conditions. The kennels could not be seen from the kitchen. Totally obscured.’British teen arrested for spying in Egypt after filming from plane
Hancock admitted placing sixty adverts between July 2016 and March 2017 which implied the pups he was selling were from a family home.
He also admitted withdrawing £23,134.56 of ‘criminal property’ from his bank on 29th March 2017 when authorities executed a search warrant at his address and he became aware they were there.
Ms Rutter said he would tell interested parties that his bitch was a family dog that accidentally fell pregnant on a shooting trip.
He would say the puppies were socialised with humans, children and other family pets.
Ms Rutter told the judge members of the public who were looking for family pets were assured that was what they were buying.
In fact there were kept in cages at the back of the Forest address.
Ms Rutter told the judge that Hancock was very keen to make the impression the dogs were family animals, telling one couple he and his family were ‘heartbroken they had to give the puppy up.’
Trading Standards attended the address in Rodley Road on 29th March 2017, and Hancock was not present.
He was contacted and said he was in Chepstow and could not return.
Hancock then proceeded to empty bank accounts, to a total of over £23,000.
The judge said of the selling of ‘farmed puppies’: ‘This is quite a widespread activity. A general problem in the country.’
Defence lawyer, Tim Burrows, said his client now had no income and was reliant on his partner who was working as a cleaner.
He said the family income was boosted to £300 per week with tax credits, but at the time of the offences he had run a milk business.
Mr Burrows said that business had a turnover of £14,000 per week, with largely cash payments.
That accounted for the large amount of money in his accounts, Mr Burrows argued, although he accepted some of it would have come from the puppy farm.
However Recorder Browne rejected that suggestion and imposed an immediate nine month jail term.
The judge said: ‘You removed £23,134.56 in a series of transactions in order to defeat the ends of justice.’
‘There may have been bills to pay, but it is entirely apparent you were trying to hide it from justice. On any view custody threshold has been crossed.
‘The background is that you had been running an illegal puppy farm for a substantial period, suggesting they had been born and brought up in your home.
‘You said they were socialised with humans, children and other dogs. In reality, they were born and kept in cages behind your house. A very different proposition from what you advertised.
‘If they had been aware they would not have bought them. You knew that. You were putting farmed dogs into other peoples homes.
‘The only possible sentence is immediate is nine months imprisonment.’
Alongside the jail term, the judge imposed an £1,800 fine for the nine Trading Standards offences.