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Unlicensed pet trader forced to pay back benefits

A false benefits claimant who sold reptiles, amongst other pets, has been ordered to pay back £54,800 within three months or face a further 18 months in jail.

Paul Dunn, 62 was jailed for three years in 2011 after being found in possession of Class A drugs with the intent to supply, reports the Daily Mail.

He used profits from the drug selling to create a menagerie of more than 200 animals, including snakes, tortoises, sheep and dogs. It emerged Dunn had been claiming thousands of pounds in Jobseeker’s Allowance, child tax credits and working tax credits.

Police officers found 40 reptile tanks stacked high and crawling with 108 snakes – alongside a large collection of rats and lizards.

Inspectors removed 22 live and dead animals from the house including boa constrictors, rats, a rattlesnake and two bearded dragon lizards.

An RSPCA vet discovered the two 6ft-long boa constrictors needed immediate attention whilst one of the bearded dragon lizards had a gangrenous foot and hamsters were dehydrated. The bill to treat the animals was more than £6,400.

Prosecuting, Graham Robinson said: “The defendant says the expenditure has come from lawful means. His assertion is he was selling animals – fish, dogs, reptiles.

“The sale of animals would have required licences from the local authority and there weren’t any. We also say as there were no accounts or tax paid, virtually nothing by way of paperwork, the whole business is tainted with illegality and he is claiming benefits during the period to which he wouldn’t have been entitled if he was making the sort of money he says.”

In court Dunn claimed he made up to £300,000 trading in exotic pets over a six year period, buying them over the internet and from pet shops.

He said he made £54,000 selling 30 bearded dragons each month and bred 9,000 fish each year in a 50ft lake specially constructed at the bottom of his garden.

He said he also sold Shar Pei puppies, tortoises and 250 corn snakes each year.


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