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Gloucestershire Business News

Investigation of councillor’s illegal puppy farm continues

A City and County councillor who has admitted running an illegal puppy farm is to face a fact-finding hearing to establish how well the dogs were cared for, a judge has decided.

Alastair Chambers, 41, of Manor Way, Quedgeley, Gloucester was convicted earlier this year of breeding and selling dogs from his farm.

The Independent councillor for the Matson/Robinswood/Coney Hill areas of Gloucester was subsequently found not guilty of three charges of fraud by a district judge over his role in the sale of the puppies.

At Gloucester Crown Court on Thursday (November 24) defence lawyer Matthew Harbinson said Chambers is concerned that he is to be sentenced for alleged welfare matters that he has not been charged with.

The solicitor said: "The position is that Chambers has admitted to the offences of breaking the law because he did not have a licence to be a puppy breeder. He does and did not make any admission as to any suffering or mistreatment of the animals in his care."

"When he entered his plea, he did not realise that this would be the consequence. A significant amount of investment was used to employ veterinarians attending the site."

Judge Ian Lawrie KC commented that the whole situation would be taken into account as part of the sentencing exercise.

But Mr Harbinson asked the judge if he could engage a specialist to evaluate the situation as he didn't agree with the conclusions of the expert instructed by the prosecution.

The judge agreed and said that a fact-finding hearing would be held at the court on June 1, 2023. Chambers will be sentenced after the conclusion of that 'Newton' hearing.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told that in July 2020 Gloucester City Council received a report from a member of the public alleging unlicensed dog breeding and puppy sales.

The police subsequently executed a search warrant and found 25 to 30 dogs inside three polytunnel style structures.

Prosecutor Mark Jackson said that Chambers sold dozens of puppies, some worth up to £2,500 and added: "The vet didn't need to attend the premises, but he was shown photographs of what was going on there."

The court also established a timeline for the formal confiscation of the dogs, which will be concluded at the same hearing in June.

Chambers is currently an independent member of both Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire County Councils, having been elected to both authorities last year as a Conservative candidate.

He represents Matson and Robinswood ward on Gloucester City Council and the Coney Hill/Matson ward on the county council.

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