Gloucester councillor who ran illegal puppy farm acquitted of fraud charges

Alastair Chambers
Councillor Alastair Chambers admitted breeding and selling dogs from his farm in Gloucester after police found 25 to 30 dogs inside three “poly tunnel” style structures Credit: ITV West Country

A Conservative councillor who was running an illegal puppy farm has been acquitted of fraud relating to the sale of a deaf cross-breed dog.

Alastair Chambers, 41, was found not guilty of three charges of fraud by a district judge over his role in the sale of the puppy.

But he faces sentencing at Gloucester Crown Court next month, having previously pleaded guilty to two Animal Welfare Act offences of breeding and selling dogs without a licence.

Chambers was accused of three fraud charges relating to the sale of a dog called Casper to Shrece Share in May 2020, which was advertised as an American Bully XL puppy.

Dismissing the three charges, District Judge Nicholas Wattam said the prosecution had failed to prove its case that Chambers had placed the advert or had committed fraud relating to whether the dog had been vaccinated.

Judge Wattam said: "Mr Chambers has given his account on oath in court, and I find he has been consistent about that.

Chambers was accused of three fraud charges relating to the sale of a dog called Casper. Credit: Google

“He always denied being the person responsible for placing the advert, arranging the sale, and dealing with the aftermath.

“I do make a finding of fact that it is more likely another person placed the original advert.

“In short, I do not think the prosecution evidence has come up to proof.

“While Mr Chambers was clearly involved in the sale in a general way, in my view the evidence falls far short of proving Mr Chambers committed a criminal fraud here.

“There is no complicit proof the advertisement for the dog was placed dishonestly by Mr Chambers or that he behaved dishonestly regarding the subsequent sale.”

Tests later showed the dog, which cost £2,450, was deaf and was in fact 75% Staffordshire Bull Terrier, 12.5% Akita and 12.5% Alaskan Malamute.

Chambers has admitted breeding and selling dogs from his farm in Gloucester.

Gloucestershire Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2020, Gloucester City Council received a report from a member of the public alleging unlicensed dog breeding and puppy sales.

The council wrote to Chambers and police executed a search warrant, finding 25 to 30 dogs inside three “poly tunnel” style structures.

The court heard Chambers was later warned by the council he must not operate as a dog breeder until he had a licence.

Prosecutor Mark Jackson said: "What is also plain from the unchallenged evidence, is that the defendant was already holding himself out as a dog breeder and was advertising and selling puppies.

“He was doing so with no dog breeder’s licence and no pet shop licence.”

Chambers, of Manor Way, Quedgeley, Gloucester, was released on unconditional bail until he is sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on July 28.

He is a member of both Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire County Council. Last year, he was elected to represent the Matson and Robinswood areas for the Conservative Party.

He currently sits as an independent member of both councils.