New life for neglected dogs: RSPCA rescues 35 pets that were crammed into ‘repugnant’ house filled with litter and faeces alongside cruel couple’s SEVEN children – as pair start jail terms for neglect
- Couple jailed for six years for ‘systematic ill treatment’ of their seven children at East Sussex home
- Christopher Bennett, 35, and Gemma Brogan, 41, also admitted animal cruelty charges at Lewes Crown Court
- They were all found living in ‘repugnant’ conditions in a house with 35 dogs – which the have RSPCA rehomed
- The animal charity have now released footage of their workers grooming the dogs back to health
The RSPCA has released footage of the moment they rehabilitated neglected dogs crammed into a ‘repugnant’ home by a couple who were paid £7,000 a month in benefits but let their seven children live in squalid conditions.
Christopher Bennett, 35, and Gemma Brogan, 41, were jailed for six years each yesterday after pleading guilty at Lewes Crown Court to seven counts of child neglect as they also admitted animal cruelty after being prosecuted by the RSPCA.
The 35 dogs have since been rescued and groomed back to health by the RSPCA after they were found in filthy conditions in their own faeces and among litter in the house.
Police officers were called to their three-bedroom house in Eastbourne, East Sussex, after reports of a domestic incident on June 14, 2021 and were appalled at the conditions inside.
Officers winced when they realised that a filthy, neglected seven-year-old asleep on a sofa near a dead dog was covered in animal faeces.
The child, who was naked apart from a nappy with her hair matted and dirty, had been severely neglected for years, the court heard.
Seven children, aged between four and 17, as well as 35 dogs were removed from the home and taken into care, with the four youngest children now living with supportive families.
The RSPCA has released footage of the rehabilitation neglected dogs crammed into a ‘repugnant’ home by a couple in East Sussex
Gemma Brogan, 41, and Christopher Bennett, 35, were sentenced to six years after pleading guilty at Lewes Crown Court to seven counts of child neglect. They also admitted animal cruelty
When officers entered the property, they saw dozens of dogs climbing over each other to try and reach the open door
The house was crammed with 35 dogs. Detective Constable Ashcroft said the home looked as though it had been ‘filthy for a number of years’. Left (before): One of the dogs left in squalid conditions; Right (after): The dog being groomed by carers at the RSPCA
A neglected dog being cared for and rehabilitated by RSPCA workers with a shampoo and a coat trim
The poor creatures were in dire need of some care before they were rehomed by the RSPCA
Addressing Lewes Crown Court, Judge Stephen Mooney said that Bennett and Brogan had ‘frittered away £7,000 a month which should have been spent on the children’.
The couple would have been receiving £84,000 in benefits each year.
Judge Mooney added: ‘It is impossible for any person to comprehend the enormity of your failings.
‘Whatever was going on in their relationship, they should have been looking after those children. How do you have 35 dogs, £7,000 in benefits, how is this allowed to happen?’
Police were called to the defendants’ address to a report of a domestic incident.
Detective Constable Fiona Ashcroft, of Sussex Police, said: ‘Upon entering the address, our officers were shocked about the state of the property and had major concerns for the welfare of all the children.
‘The stench as you entered the hallway hit officers hard; they were not able to breath normally due to the stench.
‘The state of the whole house was shocking and repugnant; it was cluttered and was strewn with discarded clothing, litter, rotting food and animal faeces.
‘It looked as if it had been filthy for a number of years.
‘There was a deafening sound of dogs yapping and barking coming from the room in front of the hallway.
‘When the door to the living room was opened, officers were shocked to see dozens of dogs climbing over each other to try and reach the open door.
‘All the dogs looked malnourished and skinny. Their fur was greasy, matted and covered in each other’s faeces.
‘In amongst the filth and melee of dogs, officers removed a sleeping child from the sofa, who was dressed in just a soiled nappy and had dogs jumping all over them.
‘All seven children, then aged between four and 17, were immediately taken into emergency protection and, following partnership working with the local authority children’s services, they were subsequently rehoused.
The dogs have been given a new lease on life after being housed in absolutely ‘repugnant’ conditions
Detective Constable Ashcroft said there was a deafening sound of dogs barking in the house
The couple had ‘crammed in’ 35 dogs, which were removed and rehomed by the RSPCA
‘The four youngest children are now living with supportive families and are learning all the principle social, mobility and life skills that our society hinges on.
‘This was a particularly dreadful example of child neglect. The address is a three-bedroom property which had 10 occupants and 35 dogs crammed in.
‘It is impossible to paint an accurate picture of the full extent of degradation and filth these vulnerable children had to endure. It is unequivocally one of the most awful addresses I have ever been in.’
The RSPCA removed the 35 dogs, which have been rehomed, as well as a dead dog.
For the animal cruelty offences, Brogan was sentenced to an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years.
She was given a five-year ban for all animals, 30 rehabilitation activity days and 100 hours’ community service work.
Bennett was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment and was disqualified indefinitely from keeping all animals.
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