A MUM who ran a pet crematorium but dumped the bodies of dead animals in fields has been jailed for eight months.
Mother of three Emma Bent, 35, of High Edge Drive, Heage, was led from the dock sobbing after being sentenced on Wednesday.
She had pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud for failing to cremate family pets and to 14 counts of breaching environmental regulations.
The court heard how Bent never acquired a licence to run her home-based cremation service from the government department Defra, which regulates such businesses. She had a contract with Ambivet veterinary practice in Heanor, to dispose of dead pets as well as running a private cremation business.
When her incinerator broke in August, 2009, she carried on taking pets, despite having no means of disposing of the corpses. Many family pets, including dogs, and cats were discovered in bags dumped in fields in Denby and Lower Hartshay.
Sentencing Bent, Judge David Pugsley described her actions as ‘calculated’ and ‘sinister’.
He said: “At the end of the day I cannot see that anything other than an immediate prison sentence can be passed. Yes, one deals with cases of fraud, but there is a fundamental difference between frauding someone by selling them designer tee-shirts and violating people’s emotions by saying that you are going to cremate an animal and leaving it rotting.
“This is not about money; this is about deception.”
Gurdil Singh, defending, said Bent was a mother of three as well as a full time carer for her husband. He said her failure to obtain a correct licence for her business was a result of ‘ignorance’ rather than malice.
He said Bent was petrified at the thought of custody and her family circumstances were difficult.
Families whose pets were found dumped also attended the hearing.
One of the owners Angie Moore, 50, from Ilkeston, whose Labrador dog Sam was found in a field in Lower Hartshay, said after the case: “It’s been 18 months since the bodies of our beloved pets have been found by a conscientious passer-by after they were callously dumped and left to rot in a field by the owner of Peak Pet Cremations, Emma Bent. We still cannot fully understand why someone would do such a cold-hearted and evil thing to what were much-loved members of our families.”
Kevin Spurgeon, from the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria, who also attended the hearing, said: “Having been in contact with some of the pet owners affected by this case for over 18 months, I know they have struggled to come to terms with the actions of Emma Bent. They have been immensely brave and of great support to one another during the long legal process, especially given the graphic and horrendous information that has been uncovered about Emma Bent’s activities.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this unpleasant case, which has taken many months of investigation by our trading standards officers.
“We will not hesitate to prosecute those who flout the law and who target people while they are at their most vulnerable.”