Notorious wedding photographer kept elderly spaniel in appalling conditions

Clayton Bennet
Clayton Bennet
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WOEFUL wedding photographer Clayton Bennett has been back before magistrates after neglecting an elderly dog.The 52-year-old hit the headlines after disgruntled brides and grooms claimed his shoddy photography skills ruined their big days.

He ran off with a bride after taking photos at her wedding and was later convicted of harassing her devastated husband.

Bennett, of Sydney St, Fence Houses, appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, where he pleaded guilty to three charges of animal cruelty.

The prosecution, brought by animal charity the RPSCA, related to an 18-year-old springer spaniel called Sable.

JPs heard how the former gun dog was found with badly matted fur and infected, ingrowing claws, when an RSPCA inspector visited Bennett’s former home, where the dog was kept in a pen outside.

Judith Curry, prosecuting, said the inspector first thought the black and white dog was dead when she went to the semi-detached house on February 26.

She said: “The dog’s eyes were cloudy and it did not seem responsive to noise.

“It kept walking in circles to the right and was very underweight, despite its thick fur, and when she stroked it, she could feel its bones.

“There was matted hair under the chin and around its eyes and feet.”

The dog was seized by the RSPCA and gained nearly 2.2kg in weight over six weeks, after being treated by a vet.

However, it was later put down after developing a sudden illness which affected its balance.

Joanne Clough, defending Bennett, said he had neglected the dog for a short time, due to family pressures.

The court was told his wife disappeared after losing their second child, leaving him to look after an 18-month-old, while caring for his 88-year-old father and a pub he ran was failing.

She has since returned and they are back together.

She said: “He was under extreme pressure, not least for financial matters, but looking after his father and wanting to find his wife.”

She added that the dog was one of eight, but he had re-homed the rest after his wife gave birth and kept his favourite.

Bennett claimed he had walked the dog three or four times a day, but admitted it had not seen a vet for three years.

The photographer made the news in 2011 after leaving a trail of shoddy camera work across the North East.

District Judge Roger Elsey adjourned sentencing until next month, while pre-sentence reports are prepared by the Probation Service.