26 July, 2021
Former residents found guilty of 37 charges
Former Kings Creek residents Sherry Hawley and Jayson Ramsey have been found guilty of 37 charges in relation to breaching their duty of care to a large number of breeding dogs and puppies in their care.
The pair was sentenced in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on 9th April this year following eight days of trial.
The charges related to failure to provide appropriate living conditions, failure to provide appropriate food and failure to provide treatment for disease or injury.
Specifically, the charges consisted of:
- 28 charges of failing to take reasonable steps to provide for the animals’ needs for accommodation or living conditions in a way that is appropriate
- 2 charges of failing to take reasonable steps to provide for the animals’ needs for food in a way that is appropriate
- 6 charges of failing to take reasonable steps to provide for the animals’ needs for treatment of disease or injury in a way that is appropriate
- 1 charge of failing to comply with an animal welfare direction.
The charges related to two offending periods - the first between June and December 2018 at Kings Creek and the second at a property in Abington, near Bundaberg, in February 2019.
In the week leading up to sentencing, 68 dogs were surrendered to RSPCA by the defendants, with many having been in the care of RSPCA for more than two years.
The defendants were allowed to keep 5 de-sexed dogs approved under a 5 year prohibition order made by the court.
The defendants were both convicted.
Ms Hawley was fined $10,000 and Mr Ramsey was fine $5,000.
The court was informed that the defendants were no longer planning to continue with their commercial breeding enterprise.
During her time in the Clifton area, Ms Hawley was well known for her eccentric behaviour and numerous business ventures.
Sherry Superstar was her stage name as a country music artist and she also dabbled in hair extensions, cleaning and dog breeding.
In a discussion thread on the Facebook group ‘THINGS FOR SALE IN TOOWOOMBA’ since 2014 dozens of people have shared their negative interactions with an account using the name Sherry Hawley.
People reported receiving and provided screenshot evidence of tirades of abusive messages from this account.
RSPCA Solicitor Nicole McEldowney said that the resolution of the case was an overwhelming relief for the animals in care at the RSPCA and the staff and foster parents caring for them.
“This is a long time in the life of a little dog, but finally these dogs can be adopted into their forever homes,”Ms McEldowney said.
“Foster care is something we do to improve the care provided to animals in long term care, but it is an expensive and resource draining exercise, and now we can use those resources for other animals in need.”
The defendant Ms Hawley had been critical of RSPCA in social media and engaged in a campaign of text and email messages to prosecutors and others in the community, sometimes sending hundreds of messages a week, threatening jail for the RSPCA Inspectors and publishing a tirade of abuse and criticisms of RSPCA and its staff.
RSPCA Prosecutions Officer Tracey Jackson said that this is a real issue for Inspectors and other RSPCA staff, and an issue that needs the attention of the law.
“It’s unacceptable that good people doing good work are subjected to this kind of abuse on social media or by text or email.
“For reasons beyond us, some people are unable to accept responsibility for their offending against animals, and instead deflect the blame and maintain a rage against the RSPCA and its staff,” Ms Jackson said.
The online attacks that RSPCA has received include some focused personally on inspectors, attempting to find out where they live and making threats against them personally.
Ms Jackson said in an age where physical aggression and violence against services such as ambulance officers, health professionals and police is not tolerated, the law needs to move to offer some protection for people suffering these vile social media campaigns.
"Some Inspectors have young children who see these disgusting comments.
“Even worse, there are people in the community who believe some of the online commentary and withdraw donations, which only hurts the very animals the Inspectors work each day to protect,” she said.