A couple who left a snake to die in their former home when they moved house have been banned from keeping animals for 15 years.
The startled landlord of the house in Easington Colliery called the RSPCA after finding Trixie, a three-foot long Royal python, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.
“He had gone to the property in Alisha Grove after not receiving any rent,” said John Elwood prosecuting. “It later transpired the occupiers had left without telling anyone.
“Trixie was in a vivarium in an upstairs room.
“When the RSPCA arrived, they found the house in a dreadful condition, rubbish, toys and dirty nappies were lying around, the house was a tip and the foul smell almost made Inspector Baines retch.
“Trixie was dead in an unheated vivarium, next to an empty water bowl.
“A lesson has been learned, and the couple realise if they are allowed to keep animals in future, they will have to look after them properly.”Tony Jackson, mitigating.
“A head injury suggested the snake had been banging against the vivarium in an attempt to escape.”
The court heard a post mortem concluded Trixie died of thirst.
“It is not possible to say how long it took Trixie to die,” added Mr Elwood. “But snakes have an unusual metabolism, going into a state of almost suspended animation when they have no water.
“The vet estimated it could have taken Trixie three months or longer to die.”
Trixie’s owners, John Jobling and Keighley Graham, were traced to their new address in Argent Street, Easington Colliery.
RSPCA inspectors who called at that house found a flea infested cat and a Staffordshire terrier with an ear infection.
Jobling, 34, and Graham, 33, each admitted two charges of animal cruelty, and two charges of failing to ensure the welfare of an animal, all between December 12, last year, and January 7, this year.
When interviewed, Jobling said looking after the couple’s four children and the animals had become too much.
He had sold most of their animals to a pet shop, and had been returning to the property occasionally to leave water for Trixie.
Tony Jackson, mitigating, said: “This is not a case of deliberate cruelty as we sadly often see in the courts.
“The couple have four children, aged two, nine, 10 and 14, and they put their needs first.
“A lesson has been learned, and the couple realise if they are allowed to keep animals in future, they will have to look after them properly.”
The court heard Jobling and Graham claim benefits of £700 a fortnight, and are not suitable for community work.
Magistrates banned the couple from keeping any animal for 15 years, imposed a 12 week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered them each to pay £330 costs.
Jobling and Graham can apply to the court for the ban to be lifted after 10 years.