Hearing to claw back cash from puppy farm gang adjourned after one refused to leave cell
PUBLISHED: 12:40 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:31 11 October 2019
A hearing to claw back cash from members of a “callous” puppy farm gang, in Norfolk, has been adjourned after one of them appeared to have refused to leave his cell to attend,
The gang made thousands by fraudulently selling dogs, which were advertised as being healthy and socialised, but in fact had been kept in poor conditions and sick.
When police raided the premises, in 2017, they found dogs in cages, some in pitch dark conditions, and some of the puppies died within days of being sold to new owners.
Zoe Rushmer, 26, of no fixed address, Michael Rushmer, 27, of Low Road, Thurlton, Jacob Murphy, 27, of The Street, Norton Subcourse, all admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and were sentenced back in June, this year, at Norwich Crown Court.
Zoe Rushmer was given a two-year suspended sentence and Michael Rushmer and Murphy were each jailed three years and six months.
The prosecution, brought by the RSPCA, estimated the gang made £300,000 from the fraud but the gang claimed it was nearer £150,000.
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The three were due back in court for a confiscation hearing to claw back cash but the case had to be adjourned when Michael Rushmer was reported to have refused to leave his cell at Wayland jail.
Matthew Edwards, prosecuting, said : "I understand that Michael Rushmer has refused to leave his cell."
He said because the benefit figure of the fraud was in dispute he said it was not possible to go ahead with only two of the defendants in attendance.
Ian James, for Zoe Rushmer, said she disputed the cash amount put forward by the prosecution: "The figure is significantly lower."
Andrew Oliver, for Michael Rushmer, said he was unsure whether it was in fact the case that he refused to leave his cell: "One hopes to resolve this without a need for a contested hearing."
He said it was desirable that Michael Rushmer attended the hearing.
Judge Andrew Shaw adjourned the hearing until October 25 and said that Michael Rushmer would be contacted to inform him about the hearing, if not it would go ahead in his absence.
Judge Shaw said that Michael Rushmer should attend: "It is very much in his interests."
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