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Puppy farmer spared jail again, despite judge slamming balaclava stunt

PUBLISHED: 08:28 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 29 June 2019

Zoe Rushmer posted this selfie to Facebook before a court hearing where she avoided jail for her role in the puppy farm in Thurlton, south Norfolk. (Left) A photo from the RSPCA of some of the puppies they found in a raid. Photo: Zoe Rushmer/Facebook/RSPCA

Zoe Rushmer posted this selfie to Facebook before a court hearing where she avoided jail for her role in the puppy farm in Thurlton, south Norfolk. (Left) A photo from the RSPCA of some of the puppies they found in a raid. Photo: Zoe Rushmer/Facebook/RSPCA

Zoe Rushmer/Facebook/RSPCA

A puppy farmer who appeared to show little remorse after being spared jail has walked free from court once more.

Zoe Rushmer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over the running of a puppy farm Picture FACEBOOK/ZOEWHOOZoe Rushmer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over the running of a puppy farm Picture FACEBOOK/ZOEWHOO

Judge Andrew Shaw called mother-of-four Zoe Rushmer back to Norwich Crown Court on Friday after giving her a suspended sentence on Tuesday for her role in running a puppy farm in Thurlton.

On Thursday, this newspaper published photos of a post she had made on Facebook boasting about her freedom and wearing a balaclava to court.

Judge Shaw recalled Rushmer to consider a new sentence under the rarely used 'slip rule' and criticised her for wearing a balaclava.

But he stuck to his original sentence due to the impact on the 26-year old's children of her going to prison.

Zoe Rushmer's Facebook post after avoiding an immediate prison sentence for the puppy farm. Photo: Facebook/Zoe RushmerZoe Rushmer's Facebook post after avoiding an immediate prison sentence for the puppy farm. Photo: Facebook/Zoe Rushmer

He said: "In circumstances where a court has been persuaded of a particular form of sentence on the basis of specific mitigating factors, the court may review the sentence and substitute a more severe one if it appears the court has been misled and the mitigating factors do not exist.

"Certain reports in the press and your activity on social media seemed to indicate mitigation you were remorseful was completely false."

But he said after hearing one of her Facebook posts was made before her sentencing, and reading a "long letter" from Rushmer, he decided the original sentence was correct.

"While I still have my doubts about how remorseful you are, the real reason I imposed the sentence I did was I did not think it right to deprive four such young children of their mother.

Zoe Rushmer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over the running of a puppy farm Picture FACEBOOK/ZOEWHOOZoe Rushmer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation over the running of a puppy farm Picture FACEBOOK/ZOEWHOO

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"That decision has been the subject to some intemperate criticism from some members of the press and the public.

"This is a court of law. The decision I made was correct.

"I hope this has been a wake up call for you. It is about time you set your children a better example than you have been doing thus far."

Zoe Rushmer wearing a balaclava at Norwich Crown Court. Picture: ArchantZoe Rushmer wearing a balaclava at Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Rushmer, of no fixed address, was given a two-year prison term suspended for two years for her part in the fraud which saw "sickly and diseased" puppies sold to unsuspecting owners from White Horse Farm on Low Road in Thurlton.

After the hearing, 72-year-old Norma Rudd of Sprowston, who bought a Yorkshire Terrier from the group, said the sentence was "disgusting".

"She has been laughing outside the court and she has ridiculed the system," she said.

"Now she will be laughing again and not thinking of all those poor dogs.

"This is no justice at all. It is the height of arrogance and a disrespect for the law.

"She has beaten the system."

Rushmer admitted fraud and animal welfare offences alongside her brother Michael Rushmer, 27, and partner Jacob Murphy, 27 who were each jailed for three-and-a-half years.

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