Puppy farmers will have to pay back just £1 of £200,000 made from fraud
PUBLISHED: 13:20 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:35 25 October 2019
Puppy farmers who made £200,000 from duping pet owners into buying sick animals will have to pay back just £1 each.
Michael Rushmer, Jacob Murphy and Zoe Rushmer were ordered to pay the money at a hearing at Norwich Crown Court on Friday.
The RSPCA, which investigated complaints from more than 30 customers, believed the three made around £300,000 between 2016 and 2018 from selling the animals from a farm in Thurlton.
But brother and sister Michael and Zoe, as well as Murphy, who were all convicted of fraud in June, disputed the figure.
Matthew Edwards, for the RSPCA, said they had agreed a sum of £200,000 but it was "largely academic" as the three had no assets.
Judge Andrew Shaw told them: "The authorities are satisfied you don't have any assets to pay that sum.
"Should you come into funds at some time in the future each of you is liable to pay £200,000."
In June, Michael Rushmer, 27, of Low Road, Thurlton and Jacob Murphy, 27, of no fixed address, were each jailed for three-and-a-half years after admitting fraud.
Zoe Rushmer was given a two-year prison term suspended for two years for her part in the fraud.
The 26-year old used her children to convince animal lovers that the sick and dying dogs she was selling them for hundreds of pounds were from a loving home, Norwich Crown Court heard in June.
She was spared jail as she has four young children to look after.
The court head that the "sickly and diseased" puppies were sold from White Horse Farm on Low Road in Thurlton to unsuspecting owners.
The families were told their new pets had been micro-chipped and vaccinated.
They also used false names in online adverts for the puppies.
Some of the animals were sold infested with worms, parvovirus and in several cases had to be put down, leaving their new owners with large vet bills.
When the RSPCA and police raided White Horse Farm and a home in Norton Subcourse in August 2017 they found more than 60 puppies and dogs.
Some were in a sweltering caravan at 30C.
Others were found in cages without food or water while other animals were kept in a dark shed, the court heard in June.