Cats were kept in ‘appalling’ conditions
Ardal Rushton-Hall was arrested on a warrant after failing to turn up at South Shields Magistrates’ Court for his trial.
A warrant is still outstanding for his mother, Anne Louise Rushton, 52.
“The defendant is her son,” said John Elwood, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA.
“It is a consistent pattern for her to obtain accommodation by rental, and move in with animals in breach of the agreement.
“She then fails to look after the animals, and leaves the property in appalling conditions with the animals suffering.
“This defendant has helped her breach her disqualification, and has kept animals in dreadful conditions such that he failed to protect them from injury and disease.”
The court heard Aiden Dunville, a landlord in Sunderland, let two flats in Stockton Road, one to Rushton, and one to her son and his partner.
“They all said they were homeless and in need of accommodation as soon as possible,” said Mr Elwood.
“Within a day, it was discovered Rushton had moved in cats, and the smell in her flat was over powering.
“The rent went unpaid, and neighbours started to complain about the smell.
“The neighbours were also concerned they had not seen anyone in the flat for some time.
“It was discovered there was 14 cats in one of the flats, and rubbish and faeces all over.
“It appears that half the cats were were owned by Rushton, and half by her son.
“The cats had fur loss on their back ends and fleas,” added Mr Elwood.
“One cat at the property was missed, and only found under floorboards during building work to make the flats habitable again.
“The defendant was aware of his mother’s disqualification from keeping animals.”
Rushton-Hall, of Souter View, Whitburn, admitted two charges of animal cruelty, and he admitted one charge of aiding and abetting a person to commit animal cruelty.
Neil Hodgson, defending, said: “The prime mover behind this offending is not before the court today.
“This went on for six or seven weeks, and there is no doubt the defendant played a lesser role.
“He has had difficulties in his upbringing, having been involved in the care sytem.
“Mr Rushton-Hall doesn’t know where his mother is, and he hopes to bring his itinerant lifestyle to an end.
“He is hopeful of finding stable accommodation in the South Tyneside or Sunderland area.”
District Judge Bernard Begley sentenced Rushden-Hall to a community order of 12 months, 120 hours of unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation activity days, and ordered him to pay £335 costs.
Rushden-Hall was banned from keeping animals for five years.