A former Lydney man has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the illegal sale of puppies and money laundering following a Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards investigation.
On 29 October 2018 at Cheltenham Magistrates Court, Leigh Hancock formerly of Rodley Road, Lydney pleaded guilty to a total of nine offences for not declaring he was a breeder in advertisements, making misleading statements to buyers and money laundering.
Hancock pleaded guilty to placing more than 60 advertisements between July 2016 and March 2017 implying that the puppies were from a family home. He made false statements about the puppies’ parents and how they became pregnant to make buyers think that the puppies they were buying had come from a family pet not a breeder.
Trading Standards officers started to receive reports of puppies being sold in the Lydney area and in November 2016 they launched an investigation and a warrant on Hancock’s home in March 2017.
Officers found around 20 adult Golden Retrievers and Labradors kennelled at the rear of the property. There were also litters of puppies in the back garden in an adapted shed. In addition, more than £5,000 in cash hidden at the property was seized.
Receipt books and business records retrieved from Leigh’s home showed that puppies were being sold on a regular basis.
Hancock subsequently faced one charge of money laundering for the transfer of money made through criminal activity by withdrawing £23,134.56 from his bank account.
Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member for public protection, parking and libraries said: “Buyers should be able to have confidence that when they see advertisements for puppies that seem to come from a family home this should indeed be the case. Many buyers do not wish to buy puppies from a breeder but from what they thought was a puppy from a family pet.
“I would like to thank all of the local people who came forward with information about the sale of these puppies and I want to praise our Trading Standards team for the excellent job they have done to bring this case to court.
“There are rules and regulations in place to help prevent this kind of criminal activity, and I would encourage all potential buyers to remain vigilant and make sure you are buying any animal from a trustworthy source.”
Leigh Hancock is due to be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on 30 November. Trading Standards will seek to confiscate any financial benefit made in connection with his crimes under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
If you are looking to purchase an animal, you can find all of the necessary safety information at www.gov.uk/guidance/buying-a-cat-or-dog