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Monkey World News

Basingstoke man banned from keeping animals for life after taking his pet monkey to the pub

Thursday 16th January 2014

Milo in the birdcage where he was kept by Richard Walton.
Picture courtesy of Monkey World

Richard Walton

Milo enjoying his new life at Monkey World.
Picture courtesy of Monkey World

A BASINGSTOKE dad has been banned from keeping animals indefinitely after he took his pet monkey to the pub on a lead and kept him in a birdcage.

Richard Walton, a father-of-two, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to his marmoset, Milo.

He was charged after a patron at the Portsmouth Arms, in Hatchwarren Lane, reported him to the RSPCA when he turned up at the pub with Milo on his shoulder.

The person who tipped off the charity had seen an article in The Gazette in May, reporting that Walton was already banned from keeping animals for two years, after he allowed the nails on his English bull terrier-type dog, Maisy, to grow into the pads on her feet.

As previously reported in The Gazette, RSPCA inspector Jan Edwards visited Walton's home, in Whitgift Close, Beggarwood, on June 4, with Dr Alison Cronin, director of Monkey World sanctuary, in Dorset. They found three-year-old Milo in a cramped birdcage in an upstairs bedroom.

Walton pleaded guilty on November 21 to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and one count of failing to meet the needs of an animal.

He appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court today for sentencing.

Nicola Hutchins, RSPCA prosecutor, said Walton was given Milo by a friend who was going travelling in Thailand.

She said Milo was found in “solitary confinement” and added: “The cage was in a dark corner of the room. There was no water provided that day. There was a bowl with a few grapes but they hadn't been touched.”Milo had nowhere to sleep and the blankets in his cage were wet from urine, while a toy was covered in faeces.

Mrs Hutchins said Milo would have found going to the pub “extremely stressful.”

Milo was rescued by Monkey World, and upon examination was found to be underweight, malnourished, had a missing canine tooth and bare spots on his tail.

When Milo was rescued, he was not agile or able to jump or crouch like a normal marmoset. However, Mrs Hutchins said he has made a full recovery and has been paired with a mate.

Mrs Hutchins said the RSPCA had not charged Walton for breaching the sentence which banned him from keeping animals, because of a typing error in a letter sent to him, which erroneously said he was only banned from keeping dogs.

Philip McCann, defending Walton, said he was not meant to be keeping Milo for long, and that the monkey's tooth was missing when he acquired him.

He said Walton, who is the primary carer of his children, aged six and 10, was “very foolish” for taking Milo to the pub, and regretted his actions.

Magistrate Doctor Christopher Pankhurst said the sentencing options were “severely limited” because a psychiatric report suggested Walton would not cope with a lengthy community order, the crime did not quite cross the threshold for imprisonment, and Walton had no means to pay for a fine, being on benefits.

Dr Pankhurst said: “We do think this offence is quite shocking,” but added: “The fact you have two dependent small children does severely limit what we can do.”

He sentenced Walton to a nine-month community order with a supervision requirement, and disqualified him from keeping any animal indefinitely. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs and £60 victim surcharge.

Inspector Edwards said: “Milo had a miserable life which compromised his welfare. At least now he is doing very well in Monkey World's care.

“The magistrates rightly called this case shocking and very serious, and I am delighted Walton has been disqualified from keeping animals. Hopefully, this can prevent much suffering to other animals in the future.”

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