Home London News Officer Byrne ‘sold dying kittens in £280k fraud’

Officer Byrne ‘sold dying kittens in £280k fraud’

Amy Byrne

Amy Byrne, now a former British Transport Police officer based in Blackheath, Lewisham, and her partner Harry Angell, appeared in Woolwich Crown Court on Friday (May 5) having both pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and violations of the Animal Welfare Act. 

Byrne and her partner bred kittens for additional income, but when people received their new pets they where met with malnourished, ill, over urine and faece-covered animals.

Complaints could be found from as early as 2015, and RSPCA prosecutor Hazel Stevens described 6 specific incidents where kittens sadly died soon after being purchased.

The disgraced couple when utilise almost 40 different false identities in their online advertisements, including false claims of being representatives of ‘Cuddles Rehoming’ – a genuine charity. There was even another occasion where they unlawfully used the ID documents of someone who had previously purchased a cat from them.

Byrne, aged 30, misrepresented to purchasers that she was a veterinarian and that the kittens had been dewormed and microchipped, however, the health certificates presented were found to be fraudulent, the court was informed. 

The court heard from one of the victims who said she had planned to purchase a male kitten from Byrne and Angell as a present for her son with autism, who had just lost his cat. Her son created a thank you card for Bryne that was taken when she came to pick up the kitten.

After Byrne left the mum realised the kitten was female, emaciated and had diarrhoea stuck in her fur. The kitten died a short time later. 

Ms Stevens told the court: “There were human and animal victims in this. Humans were risk of getting these illnesses from the cat. Children who were excited about a new member of the family including one child who made a card to thank Amy Byrne, only to see them die days later. 

Amy Byrne
One of the kittens that is now dead //RSPCA

Another victim of their scam said: “Having recently lost a cat to the road, we were so looking forward to giving a home to a new kitten. We instantly fell in love with Elsa who was so sleepy and cuddly when we got her. For the two precious weeks we had her in our lives, she became part of our family. 

“We were just devastated to watch her slowly go downhill, monitoring her eating so little, trying to rid her of the worms she arrived with and taking her to the vet for numerous checks/tests. She spent her last two days in the animal hospital with them trying everything to make her better but she gave up the fight and we began our grieving for little Elsa.” 

When owners got back in contact with Byrne and Angell after the sale they were often ignored, Ms Stevens said. 

The court was told that there was an instance when a distraught purchaser and her partner arrived at their home to request a refund. Byrne instructed them to remain outside until Angell appeared and yelled out: “You bought the kitten from me not Amy, but I am not giving you a f***ing penny.” 

In response to the high number of reports received by Trading Standards, the RSPCA and the police, a search was conducted at Byrne and Angell’s residence on Downbank Avenue in Barnehurst on August 26, 2021. 

During their search, Byrne and Angell attempted to get rid of their cellphones. Angell leapt out of the window and discarded his phone in the front yard, and while police were pursuing him, Byrne performed a factory reset of her phone, the court was informed. 

Angell’s phone was found and there were hundreds of photos of kittens, questions about advertisements, and complaints from people saying their kittens were ill. 

On the day of the search, a total of 17 kittens were discovered on the grounds and a vet determined that six of them were in distress. They were confiscated and despite being immediately provided adequate care, one died.

A BTP misconduct hearing report also revealed that a hydroponics tent, two cannabis plants, a bag of cannabis, a half-smoked joint and a packet of cannabis seeds were also discovered in connection with a separate matter at an address linked to her.

Angell was jailed for three years and four months, while Byrne was jailed for three years and eight months. 

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