Man Jailed Over Keeping Crocodile And Snakes

8 October 2018, 15:54 | Updated: 8 October 2018, 15:56

Handcuffs

A man from Laindon who kept a 4ft crocodile and 23 snakes in "appalling conditions" in the bedroom of a rented house has been jailed for 26 weeks.

36 year old Lee Thompson, of King Edward Road, failed attend his trial at Basildon Magistrates' Court in August.

He was convicted in his absence of two counts of breaching a ban on keeping a dangerous wild animal, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal and two counts of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.

Police arrested him in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, on September 11th and he was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court last Wednesday.

He was also fined £115.

Essex Police said Thompson had been on their radar since 2015 when they found 45 exotic animals, including spiders, a lizard and a snapping turtle, at a unit he rented in Basildon.

Some of the animals, which had been left without water, food and heat, died, and the survivors were taken into the care of the RSPCA and specially trained handlers.

Efforts to find Thompson, who was not at the unit at the time, were unsuccessful and he was on the run until January this year.

He was arrested at an address in Napier Close, Basildon and on the same day officers found a menagerie of exotic animals at a house he rented in Burdett Avenue in Westcliff.

The 4ft caiman, 23 snakes and fat-tailed scorpion had no food, water or heat source and the snakes were in poorly-ventilated plastic boxes.

Seven of the snakes died and had been left to decompose, with the survivors taken into the care of the RSPCA.

During police interview Thompson claimed the animals were his pets and he had no intention of selling them but he admitted neglecting them.