Monday 15 May 2023

British police officer sold sick and dying kittens in a cruel £280,000 moneymaking scam

NEWS AND OPINION: In another example of British police officers misbehaving, former British Transport Police officer Amy Byrne and her partner Harry Angell bought kittens at a discounted price and apparently, they also bred kittens as well and then sold them at inflated prices. 

I will suggest here that the reason they were able to sell the sick kittens at inflated prices is because they claimed that they were purebred kittens. This has not been reported in the news media but if you can buy kittens for £50 online which you can and then sell them for hundreds of pounds which you also can you have to justify it by misrepresenting the kittens as purebred. 

A lot of people are fooled by claims that cats are purebred, pedigree cats. They don't know the cat breeds or what they should look like. The wool can be pulled over their eyes. You see a lot of this online. In truth this couple's scam was based on this weakness in knowledge.

One of the sick kittens
One of the sick kittens. Image: SWNS/RSPCA

In this moneymaking scam, the health and welfare of the kittens concerned were completely ignored. Customers often found that their new pets were malnourished, ill and even covered in urine or faeces. They sometimes died not long after they were adopted. This is after the family had bonded to the kitten which makes this go even more obnoxious because it wasn't only the kittens who suffered but the people who bought them as well.

This scamming couple used at least 33 fake identities in adverts. Remember, this is a police officer. She was engaging in out-and-out crime. Another example by the way of a failure in the selection process for police officers. This has been admitted by the head of the Metropolitan Police. Although Amie Byrne worked for the British Transport Police as mentioned.

The couple deceived buyers into believing that they were buying kittens that had been wormed and micro-chipped. They provided fake health certificates.

They pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court to charges of fraud and breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Angell was jailed for three years and four months while Byrne was jailed for three years and eight months. They were both banned from owning pets for 10 years with no chance of an appeal.

The RSPCA prosecuted. Representing that charity at court, Hazel Stevens gave six examples where kittens died soon after they were bought. She said:

There were human and animal victims in this. Humans were at risk of getting illnesses from the cats. Children were excited about a new member of the family including one child who made a card to thank Amy Byrne only to see them died days later.

One parent bought a male kitten for her artistic son. She soon found that the cat was in fact female and was underweight and had diarrhoea in her fur. She died soon afterwards.

One victim said:

Having recently lost a cat, we were so looking forward to giving a home to a new kitten. We instantly fell in love with Elsa, who was so sleepy and cuddly when we got her. For the two precious weeks we had her she became part of our family. We were devastated to watch her slowly go downhill, trying to rid her of the worms she arrived with and taking her to the vet for numerous tests. She spent the last two days in the animal hospital with them trying everything to make a better but she gave up the fight.

Think of the emotional pain of that and the pain suffered by the kitten. And also think of the financial cost.

When purchasers contacted the couple, they were ignored. Trading Standards and the RSPCA were inundated with complaints leading to the police searching the home of Byrne and Angell. They tried to throw away their mobile phones. Angell jumped out of the window and threw his phone in the garden. Byrne did a factory reset on her phone.

Despite these attempts to remove data, Angell's phone was recovered which revealed hundreds of images of kittens. There were also enquiries about adverts and complaints from customers on the phone.

The Times newspaper (the source of this article) reports that Angell bragged about how he bought two kittens for £75 then sold them for £600 each the next week. The RSPCA say that the couple intended to make a gain of £278,870. Byrne was sacked in January after a misconduct investigation. She shared another property containing cannabis plants and a half-smoked joint and a pack of cannabis seeds.

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