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Man banned from selling animals after being caught without a licence

Release date: 
Thursday, 27 February, 2020

A man has been banned from selling animals for four years and ordered to pay more than £1,000 for failing to have licence to run a pet shop.

Burnley Council took Ben Allen Jones (24), of Countess Street, Accrington, and his business Bensons Aquatics & Pets, to court after officers found he was illegally selling animals, including a budgie nicknamed Sid, from a shop in Hebrew Road, Burnley.

Jones and Bensons Aquatics together admitted a total of 12 counts of selling animals as pets, without a licence, in contravention of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Blackburn Magistrates Court was told that the council was alerted to the fact that budgies and turtles were being sold to the public from the shop, without a licence to do so. The business was listed as being involved in the “retail sale of flowers, plants, seeds, fertilisers, pet animals and pet food” and also had a Facebook page with several posts selling animals with a price alongside.

A council licensing officer visited the shop and spoke to the defendant who denied he was selling animals. A further visit was carried out which found numerous animals on shelving around the shop, including a cage with six of seven budgies in it. The council officer undertook a test purchase and bought a budgie from the defendant.

Jones was later interviewed by a council officer and said he wasn’t aware he needed a licence. He said he had opened the business in order to create a better life financially for himself and his partner. Jones said he couldn’t afford a licence and was in the process of shutting down the shop when the second visit occurred, and he sold the budgie as he knew he wasn’t going to sell anything afterwards.

The shop closed in December 2019 and the business is no longer trading.

John Clucas, a council licensing and compliance officer, said: “Laws are there to protect customers’ rights and it is not fair on those businesses that do put in the effort of complying with the law and paying for a licence to have someone down the road ignoring the legislation and undercutting them on price.”

Jones was ordered to pay £600 costs. He is currently under a separate suspended sentence order which was extended for three months. He was also ordered to carry out 10 hours rehabilitation requirement days. Bensons Aquatics was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £32 victim surcharge and £100 costs.

The budgie bought by the council officer and nicknamed by officials as Sid has been rehomed and is healthy and content with his new owner.

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