Eastbourne couple sentenced for child neglect and animal cruelty

An Eastbourne couple have been sentenced for child neglect and animal cruelty, says Sussex Police.
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Officers were called to an address at 11.40pm on June 14 2021. A police spokesman said: "They were appalled at the filthy condition of the house, from which 35 dogs were also taken into safe keeping.

"Christopher Bennett, 35, and Gemma Brogan, 41, were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Friday 4 November having pleaded guilty on 9 May to seven counts of child neglect."

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Detective Constable Fiona Ashcroft of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: "Upon entering the address, our officers were shocked about the state of the property. The stench, as you entered the hallway, hit officers hard – they were not able to breathe normally due to the stench. The state of the whole house was shocking and repugnant - it was cluttered and was strewn with discarded clothing, litter, rotting food and animal faeces. It looked as if it had been filthy for a number of years.

Christopher Bennett and Gemma Brogan. Picture from Sussex PoliceChristopher Bennett and Gemma Brogan. Picture from Sussex Police
Christopher Bennett and Gemma Brogan. Picture from Sussex Police

“There was a deafening sound of dogs yapping and barking coming from the room in front of the hallway. When the door to the living room was opened, officers were shocked to see dozens of dogs climbing over each other to try and reach the open door. All the dogs looked malnourished and skinny. Their fur was greasy, matted and covered in each other’s faeces."

Police said seven children were taken into emergency protection and rehoused.

Detective Constable Fiona Ashcroft added: "This was a particularly dreadful example of child neglect. It is impossible to paint an accurate picture of the full extent of degradation and filth these vulnerable children had to endure. It is unequivocally one of the most awful addresses I have ever been in.”

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The RSPCA was also called and 35 dogs were rehomed. One dog was found dead.

Police said Bennett and Brogan pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after being prosecuted by the RSPCA during separate cases in February and August this year.

Brogan was sentenced to an 18-week prison sentence suspended for two years. She was given a five-year ban for all animals, 30 rehabilitation activity days and 100 hours of community service work, said police. Bennett was sentenced to 18 weeks' imprisonment and was disqualified indefinitely from keeping all animals, police added.