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Jailed Crunchy's animal carer bids for release citing ‘depression’
A WOMAN jailed for for running an animal rescue centre in appalling conditions should be released because she’s “depressed, has ulcers and diabetes”, a judge heard.
Angela Russell was handed a six-month prison sentence in July after being convicted of “prolonged neglect” at Crunchy’s Animal Rescue in Longworth.
Along with five other members of her family she was found guilty of 16 counts of animal cruelty and welfare offences after a trial in June.
Yesterday, she appeared at Oxford Crown Court to appeal her sentence because of her health problems – including obesity, ulcers and depression.
The prosecution came after inspectors from the RSPCA raided their centre off the A420 in January last year and seized 95 animals, at least 50 of which were suffering from neglect.
Four other members of their family avoided prison and all but one are now disqualified from owning animals for at least 10 years.
District Judge Tim Pattinson branded Russell the “driving force” behind the centre and said she was “totally unfit to care for animals”.
During yesterday’s hearing Jonathan Coode, prosecuting, said that one mental health professional believed Russell could be “malingering” – or making up her symptoms.
Alexandra Scott, defending, said that the sentence handed to her client was fair, but should be suspended because of the defendant’s “vulnerability”.
She said: “Mrs Russell is vulnerable in two respects. Firstly physically – she is morbidly obese and she has a number of ulcers on her legs and arms.
“She also suffers from diabetes, which may be related to her weight. These conditions do affect her ability to go about her life. When at home she sleeps on the ground floor on a hospital bed with sides which can be raised or lowered to help her get in and out of bed.
“These issues have caused her problems in HMP Bronzefield, such as getting in and out of bed. Her ulcers have also spread to her chest and back.
“Her physical difficulties are linked to her mental disabilities because she doesn’t take very good care of herself when she is depressed.”
Miss Scott added that as well as feeling depressed, Russell was “suffering from elective mutism” and had experienced “suicidal thoughts”.
The barrister said: “At HMP Bronzefield she doesn’t leave her room.
“She finds the other prisoners there quite intimidating. They are loud, they shout, they swear, they bang on the door.
“This is something Mrs Russell finds hard to cope with, she is more vulnerable than her peers.”
Judge Gordon Risius, sitting with two magistrates, said after hearing the evidence that he would announce his decision today.
A JUDGE described Crunchy’s as “a rescue centre from which animals needed to be rescued”.
During the trial at Bicester Magistrates’ Court, Russell claimed the inspectors had caused the dreadful conditions themselves.
District Judge Pattinson branded this a “malicious” deception.
Russell was jailed for six months, her son Robert, 25, got 16 weeks, while Russell and her father Fred, who received a 26-week suspended sentence, were banned for life from owning or caring for animals. Her three children, Kirsty, Louise and Robert, were all banned for 10 years, and Louise was given a 12-week suspended sentence.
Russell’s niece Abigail McHugh and daughter Kirsty were both made subject to community orders.