Family’s ‘pain’ despite jail for woman who left dogs to rot

STILL GRIEVING -- Linda Allen with husband John and son James holding Bournville's ashes
STILL GRIEVING -- Linda Allen with husband John and son James holding Bournville's ashes

JUSTICE has been served with the imprisonment of a “despicable” woman who faked the cremation of a much-loved Hucknall dog before callously dumping his remains to rot in a field.

Emma Bent owned Peak Pet Cremations in Heage, Derbyshire — a business trusted to sensitively give closure to families who had lost pets.

MUCH-LOVED -- Bournville

MUCH-LOVED -- Bournville

Now she has started an eight-month prison-sentence after admitting discarding animals’ bodies and leaving some to decompose in bags inside a shed.

One of her victims was Bournville, a 12-year-old chocolate-brown border collie who had to be put to sleep because of cancer in his head.

Owner Linda Allen and her husband, John, of Coupe Gardens, have welcomed the punishment meted out to Bent. But they say the “pain and misery” their family have been put through will live on.

Linda was at Derby Crown Court to see Bent jailed. She and other victims stood united in white T-shirts bearing pictures and names of their pets.

Speaking to the Dispatch, Linda said: “I can’t believe she (Bent) did this. All the victims trusted her and Peak Pet Cremations. Her actions have hurt so many people.

“In court, she turned on the tears. But I don’t think it was in sympathy for the pets or the families. It was more about herself and what she was facing.”

Bournville died in the arms of Linda (55) at a Derbyshire vet’s on a sheepskin rug in August 2009. Her four sons — Simon (37), Russell (34), James (31) and Adam (28) — had grown up with him.

When he was cremated, the family were given his ashes and a certificate signed by Bent. But the ashes were fake and came from a bonfire, the court heard.

Weeks later, the family was contacted by the RSPCA because Bournville’s body had been found by a walker in the field near Ripley, Derbyshire, along with the remains of other dogs. He was identified by a microchip.

“There was utter disbelief,” said Linda. “We pressed to see him and identified his body. He was covered in maggots and his fur was matted.”

Bournville has now been cremated properly and the family have his ashes at their home. But there are doubts surrounding the remains of another of the family’s pets, a Yorkshire terrier named Mitzy. For she was also cremated by Bent’s firm a year before Bournville.

“We dare not think that Mitzy might have gone through the same thing,” said Linda. “We just hope and pray she was cremated properly.”

Bent (35) pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and 16 other charges relating to operating an unapproved incinerator and the disposal of animal byproducts and controlled waste.

The court heard she had threatened to commit suicide if she went to prison.

In passing sentence, Judge David Pugsley labelled the mother-of-three as “despicable and calculating”.

He told her: “People who were vulnerable were exploited. The bond between humans and other members of the animal kingdom is intense.

“Some people give up having dogs because they can’t bear having them put down. Some dog owners are full of regret when they take their dog, with its tail wagging, to the vet’s to be put to sleep.

“No shepherd ever shot his his sheepdog because he was accepting of the bonding effect of the animals. What you did caused very real hurt.”