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Dog cruelty case man bids to overturn ban on keeping animals

By Paul Higgins

Published 09/11/2016

Francis Milliken at Antrim Court
Francis Milliken at Antrim Court

The PSNI is footing the bill for the ongoing care of five seized pit bull-type dogs, a judge has heard.

Francis Milliken, banned from keeping animals after he confessed to causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs last month, had been set to appeal the disqualification order.

However, applying for that appeal to be adjourned, defence lawyer Chris Sherrard told Antrim County Court he was seeking a report on the 41-year-old's "capability and ability to look after dogs at his home".

Last month Milliken, from Weavershill Road in Belfast, was given a four-month jail term, suspended for two years, and banned from keeping animals for two years after he was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to the five canines - an adult male, adult female, two male puppies and a female puppy, in dates between December 1 last year and January 15 this year.

The court heard that when police searched an unoccupied house at Donore Crescent in Antrim's Greystone estate they found the two adult dogs in cages which were so small they were unable to sit, and the animals themselves had scars and wounds.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court there were also newborn puppies in another cage without water or bedding.

In all, 10 dogs were seized from Milliken.

The five charges brought against the one-time drug smuggler related to the dogs which were assessed as "extremely badly looked after".

In court yesterday a Public Prosecution Service lawyer confirmed that despite fears the animals would have to be destroyed, it was now the case that "the dogs are capable of being rehomed", adding that while the prosecution was content with the two-week adjournment, that should be the only time the case is put back.

"It's my understanding that the ongoing costs for the care of the five animals is being borne by the PSNI," the lawyer said.

She added that while the matter of reclaiming or retrieving those costs can be pursued in the civil courts, that cannot happen until the appeal has been adjudicated upon.

Adjourning the case to the end of the month, Judge Sandra Crawford warned that the "matter will proceed" on the best occasion immaterial of whether the defence report was ready or not.

Belfast Telegraph

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