An international puppy smuggling ring has been jailed for a total of 18 years for selling animals online that had been so badly treated they died before they new owners got them home.
The gang of smugglers, many of them from the Irish Cawley traveller family, made more than £300,000 in a sophisticated fraud designed to dupe innocent dog owner's out of their hard-earned cash.
Sentencing the 13 defendants today, Judge Francis Sheridan said: 'You have all played your part in this disgusting trade and you preyed upon the kindness of British citizens.'
The gang would smuggle several dogs into the UK from southern Ireland a day.
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The gang of smugglers, many of them from the Irish Cawley traveller family, made more than £300,000 in a sophisticated fraud designed to dupe innocent dog owner's out of their hard-earned cash
The gang would smuggle several dogs into the UK from southern Ireland a day
Earlier, prosecutor Hazel Stevens revealed that excited new owners were horrified when their adorable pets started falling sick before they even got them home, with some being so riddled with disease, they could not survive.
Judge Sheridan heard how the Cawleys, now from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, used frontman Daniel Yeboah, aged 45 years, to place numerous adverts under false names before luring unsuspecting families into buying the smuggled puppies - often out of pity for the conditions in which they were being kept.
Mrs Stevens told the judge: 'Many people purchasing a puppy, naturally became excited and invested time and emotion as well as money into their puppy. They chose a name and planned the arrival of their new family member and were left devastated when the puppy was sick and in some cases died.
Pictured: Police officers raid the trailers where the smugglers would keep their dogs
'The use of these animals as a commodity without care for their welfare and for the effect on the purchasers and children in their family, is something that the RSPCA, other animal welfare charities and the Government have been working very hard to stop.'
In a harrowing victim impact statement, Kimberley Duffy, an innocent puppy buyer who had brought her Shih Tzu puppy Barnaby from the swindlers, told the court how the scam had affected her family.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
She said: 'When I went to see Barnaby and heard he was being bullied by another dog, I instantly decided to take him home. I then decided to surprise my partner at work with Barnaby on her lunch break and video her reaction.
Sentencing the 13 defendants today, Judge Francis Sheridan said: 'You have all played your part in this disgusting trade and you preyed upon the kindness of British citizens'
'She was extremely excited and surprised as he was an early Christmas present. When the children came home that evening, they too were extremely excited and we all bonded with him instantly.'
However, the court heard that their dream soon turned into a nightmare, as Barnaby became ill when he arrived home and after a visit to the vet, Ms Duffy and her partner ended up staying awake all night to feed him.
Ms Duffy explained what happened next: 'Myself and my partner stayed up all night with Barnaby, giving hourly food, fluids and medication. By 4.30am we decided on one more dose and then allowed him to rest.
'Being exhausted ourselves we fell asleep. At 7.15am on Thursday, October 24, 2019, we were awoken by the traumatic cries of our 11-year-old son who had been into our room and found Barnaby no longer breathing.
Daniel Yeboah, of Avon House, Bletchley, and John Cawley (right), 24, of Willen Caravan Site, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, were jailed for 42 months for their role in the smuggling while Joseph Cawley Senior (left), 44, of Willen Caravan Site, was jailed for 45 months
'Myself and my partner tried in vain to revive him while our children looked on traumatised and heartbroken. At 7.34am we decided to stop trying. We both broke down in tears, absolutely devastated that our little fur baby hadn't survived despite our desperate tireless efforts to do all we could.'
The court heard that with vet bills and the price of buying Barnaby from the Cawleys the Duffys lost more than £1,300.
Describing their emotions, Ms Duffy said: 'We feel utter anger, frustration and are furious at the lies we were told by the seller, the sheer neglect and trauma Barnaby suffered at the hands of