A man has been banned from owning reptiles for seven years after he pleaded guilty to abandoning three Royal Python snakes in a public litter bin in Scarborough.
On the morning of Wednesday 29 June this year, Samuel Thomas Newton, 35, of Hampton Road, Scarborough, transported the three non-venomous snakes in a carrier bag from his home address to the Sandybed Lane area of the town before dumping them in a litter bin directly outside a school.
Two of the snakes were rescued by the police later the same day following a report by a member of the public who had spotted one hanging out of the bin. The third was found in a nearby grassy area the next day.
Following a media appeal, Newton was identified as the owner of the pythons.
He initially denied being involved, stating that he had handed the snakes to a third party for rehoming.
However, when he was formally interviewed by the police, he finally admitted to dumping the snakes himself.
Newton stated that the increase in the cost of food and heating, together with him not being able to spend enough time looking after the animals, had led him to make the decision to abandon them.
He made no attempt to rehome them and had given no consideration to their welfare.
Following the investigation by North Yorkshire Police, Newton was charged with an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
After pleading guilty, he was sentenced at Scarborough Magistrates Court today (22 August 2022).
As well as receiving a seven-year ban from owning reptiles, Newton was fined £384 and also has to pay a £154 surcharge and £85 costs totalling £623.
PC Graham Bilton, North Yorkshire Police's wildlife crime officer for the Scarborough area, investigated the incident.
He said: “It is extremely concerning that three large non-native snakes have been simply abandoned with no consideration for their welfare or wellbeing. Fortunately, they were discovered quite quickly and appear to have not suffered any significant harm but will undoubtedly have been stressed.
“The actions of Newton were wholly irresponsible and illegal, and on his own admission were ‘disgusting’.”
RSPCA Inspectorate National Wildlife Coordinator, Geoff Edmond, said: "This case highlights what we fear is happening in that the rising costs of keeping pets - including insurance, veterinary fees, food costs and energy bills, which are particularly relevant to exotic pets that require specific heat and light sources - will lead to situations like this where pet owners are being forced to give up or abandon their animals.
“Our Animal Kindness Index identified that 78% of pet owners fear the cost of living will impact their animals and 19% are worried about how they'll afford to feed their pets. Nevertheless, at no time should animals be abandoned
“Thanks to the swift response from PC Bilton, North Yorkshire Police were able to work in close partnership with the RSPCA to ensure these snakes were taken into care. The incident was also fully investigated resulting in the positive outcome at court.”