Puppy farmer spared jail again, despite judge slamming balaclava stunt
PUBLISHED: 08:28 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 29 June 2019
A puppy farmer who appeared to show little remorse after being spared jail has walked free from court once more.
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.
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.
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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."
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.