A couple who conspired to fraudulently sell puppies to members of the public have been ordered to pay back over £21,000 to their victims.

The Confiscation Order was made after a joint investigation by the RSPCA and West Mercia Police. On 21 February 2020, Jeff McDonagh, 39, and Betty Burton, 36, of Arleston Brook, Telford, were found guilty of conspiring to dishonestly make false representation at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

McDonagh was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and a community order and Burton was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 12 months.

Both were also found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act, for which they also received suspended sentences to run concurrently.

The investigation found that McDonagh and Burton advertised puppies for sale in the Manchester and Telford areas, claiming they were homebred, healthy and socialised. The puppies were sold from a different address using false names and sometimes false paperwork. A number of the puppies sold became sick shortly after purchase and died, while others survived but required intensive and expensive veterinary care.

The puppies were found to have been bred in completely unsuitable conditions in circumstances that did not match the expectation of those who were induced to buy them.

On 28 April 2022 at Shrewsbury Crown Court, a Confiscation Order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, was made.

The total benefit from the crime was agreed to be £175,000 and the total loss to the victims was £21,670. McDonagh was ordered to repay this amount within 28 days or face time in prison. A nominal order was made against Burton as she was found to have no assets available at the time of the hearing.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright, of the Economic Crime Unit, West Mercia Police, said: “This judgement means that McDonagh faces prison if he does not pay back the people he defrauded.

“Should McDonagh and Burton be found to have further assets in the future, they will be required to keep making payments until the total benefit of £175,000 has been repaid.”

“This case show that those who commit serious fraud will be tackled by West Mercia Police and other partner agencies.” “We will both bring them to justice and remove the proceeds of crimes to compensate victims.”