A family dog was stolen from the back garden of her home and then sold on for £500 using fake documents.
Border terrier Ginny was taken from the garden in Shobnall and ended up 60 miles away with a new owner in Doncaster.
Now the fraudsters who carried out the sale by using fake documents have pleaded guilty to carrying out the work – and Ginny has finally been returned to her family.
It has now been revealed Lucy Guntripp had sold Ginny to the new owner in Doncaster six months later.
The new owner found out her real identity from a microchip scanned by her vet.
Ginny was returned to Hannah Denton, Mark Draycott and their son Charlie, then nine, from Shobnall, on New Year’s Day 2016.
Describing the moment she saw Ginny again, Miss Denton said at the time: ‘I was just a mess. You see so many dogs reunited with their owners and you just hope it will be you next. We were in disbelief.
‘Never give up hope. We put up adverts everywhere. You do everything you physically can to find them.’
Lucy Guntripp, from Stramshall, near Uttoxeter, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business, while Kelvin Brown, from Heathfield Road, Uttoxeter, admitted unlawfully using a practitioner’s title and three charges of making a false document.
Guntripp made nearly £3,000 selling dogs with fake documents, including bogus vaccination certificates signed by cousin Brown.
The man, pretending to be a registered veterinary surgeon called ‘Keith Brown’, was caught after genuine vets saw the forged papers.
The court heard Guntripp had issued a catalogue of false documents when the buyer from Doncaster paid £500 for the dog.
They included a breeders’ certificate, vaccination card, ownership papers and Kennel Club registration – all carrying fake name ‘Red Caro’.
Guntripp and Brown have now pleaded guilty to their crimes after appearing at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on Monday, December 18.
Magistrates ruled they had ‘risked the health and well-being of the puppies’ and inflicted ‘high emotional distress’ on their victims.
Prosecutor Lucy Daniels said: ‘Lucy Guntripp made £2,950 by advertising a large number of puppies and dogs for sale between May 2015 and February 2016.
‘Not only have the defendants misled the purchasers, but they’ve saved money by not actually vaccinating the puppies themselves.
‘This would have put the animals’ health at risk from infection and disease, as would selling the puppies at just six weeks of age.
Guntripp will be sentenced at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on Monday, January 8.
‘The fraudulent vaccination certificates meant customers had to pay around £80 for extra vaccinations after buying the dogs.’
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After several vets reported the forged vaccination cards, animal health officers raided Guntripp’s Trippyhill Farm, in Uttoxeter in February 2016.
Ms Daniels, prosecuting for animal health authority Staffordshire County Council, told the court what was uncovered during the raid.
She said: ‘Evidence gathered during the execution of a warrant at LucyGuntripp’s home address found altered tail docking certificates and blank Irish vaccination certificates.
‘It was a sophisticated fraud. There were false documents and vaccination certificates.
‘In relation to Lucy Guntripp, this is a case of culpability and there has been an abuse of her position and responsibility.
‘People buying pets rely on the person selling them when they say they’ve been vaccinated.’
Among the other animals sold with certificates signed by Brown, were wire-haired fox terrier puppies that fetched up to £850 each.
Richard Oldroyd, defending Guntripp and Brown, said: “Kelvin Brown accepts he signed these documents when asked to do so.
When contacted by a vet who had seen his name on the certificate, he was asked if he was ‘Keith Brown’ and he said he was.
‘I’m not a writing analyst, but it appears likely the signature on the certificate was actually for Kelvin, not Keith, Brown.
‘He had no financial gain whatsoever and was not responsible for the animals. He was living in a caravan, but has moved out from there and now lives with his partner, who is expecting their child, and has started a successful business.
‘The allegations against Lucy Guntripp were spread over a short space of time. There were two litters of terriers.
‘It was at a time when she had money difficulties. She lived on a farm where there were problems with vets’ bills and local vets were unwilling to nhelp them with vaccinations.
‘There was a big raid in February 2016 and there was no criticism whatsoever in terms of the animals’ welfare.’
Brown, 33, committed the offences while an unrelated suspended sentence was active, the court heard.
He will be sent to crown court for sentencing at a later date.
Guntripp, 20, will be back at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, in Newcastle under Lyme, to be sentenced on Monday, January 8.
Both defendants have been granted unconditional bail until they next appear.