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Vet who aided fraudulent puppy farmers jailed after sentence is increased

James Hockaday

Vet who aided fraudulent puppy farmers jailed after sentence is increased

A disgraced vet from Iver Heath who helped a puppy farming gang who made more than £2m selling sick and dying dogs has been jailed after having his sentence increased.

The gang, who made an estimated £2.5m from their scam, were originally sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court in May, following a three year RSPCA investigation, dubbed Operation Adder.

Daniel Doherty, 49, of Wood Lane, Iver Heath, who ran two My Vets surgeries in Uxbridge, West London, conspired with the fraudsters by falsifying vaccination cards to help them sell the puppies.

He was originally sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work and pay a £140 victim surcharge after being convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.

But his sentence was increased, after the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, personally presented the case to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.

Yesterday (Thursday), Doherty’s sentence was increased to three-and-a-half years behind bars.

Simon O’Donnell, 30, of Bradenham Road, Hayes, West London, was originally sentenced to three years in prison, disqualified from keeping dogs for life and told to pay an £170 victim surcharge after admitting one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, three animal welfare offences and to running a pet shop without a licence.

The Court of Appeal increased his sentence to four years in prison. His disqualification remains.

Thomas Stokes, 26, of Coldharbour Lane, Hayes  was jailed for three years , disqualified from keeping dogs for life and ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud off and one animal welfare offence.

His sentence was increased to four years and eight months in prison and his disqualification remains.

Edward Stokes, 35, of Tenaplas Drive, Upper Basildon, Berkshire was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, a lifetime ban on keeping dogs and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Yesterday’s ruling saw his sentence increased to four years and eight months in prison and his disqualification remains.

The gang imported puppies from Ireland and kept in sheds, outbuildings, garages and gardens, before advertising them online as ‘home bred’ and selling them on.

Many of them fell seriously ill or died shortly after they were sold.

RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Winthnall said: “The puppy trade causes serious suffering and this case involved many sick and dying puppies and resulted in heartbreak for unsuspecting owners.”

Investigators estimated the dealers sold puppies for an average of £500 each — making at least £2,548,500 by selling 5,097 puppies during a five-year period, although investigators suspect there were many more.

Evidence showed that 4,689 puppies were taken to MyVet 24/7 by the gang between 23 March, 2011 and May 10, 2017, with Doherty pocketing at least £75,000.

The Solicitor General said: “This group not only subjected thousands of puppies to atrocious living conditions, but also caused immense distress to families who had to watch their new pets suffer from serious illness.

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has today agreed to increase all four sentences, and hope this will bring some comfort to the victims of their crimes.”

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