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Women charged after 350 animals seized in RSPCA raid

TWO WOMEN have been charged with causing unnecessary suffering to more than 350 animals following a high-profile raid.

Hundreds of dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs were seized from a North Norfolk smallholding earlier this summer in one of the biggest ever RSPCA operations in the country.

The RSPCA confirmed that Elizabeth King, 53, and Beryl Barker, 72, both of Broadwood Close, Trimingham, near Cromer, will appear before magistrates later this month.

King faces 44 charges of causing unnecessary suffering to 352 animals under the Protection of Animals Act. Barker stands accused of 42 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the 133 dogs, 45 cats, 52 rabbits, and 122 guinea pigs.

It is the first time the two women have been officially named by the authorities.

King has been found guilty of similar animal cruelty charges before. Some 15 years ago the RSPCA seized a large number of dogs kept in squalid conditions at her kennels at Salhouse, near Norwich. One GSD was found to be housed in a narrow metal cage that it had to back into and could not turn round in. King also bred Schipperkes under the affix Maciera.

Sophie Wilkinson, for the RSPCA, said the current charges related to animal living conditions and not seeking veterinary treatment.

RSPCA inspectors and North Norfolk District Council officers descended on Water Tower Farm, Trimingham, on June 13 this year to recover the animals. The operation took 16 hours and involved 30 officers.

Supt Tim Wass said at the time that the raid was the biggest in East Anglia and the Midlands, and a handful of animals had to be put down due to their poor condition.

All the rescued animals, apart from the rabbits, have been re-homed following a "phenomenal" response from animal lovers.

Hundreds of people from as far afield as Hertfordshire, London and the South East flocked to the Block Fen Animal Centre, in March, Cambridgeshire, to adopt the small breed dogs. The RSPCA had to turn many away because of the high demand.

The two women will appear before Cromer Magistrates' Court at 2.15pm on September 30. The case is expected to be adjourned following a plea hearing.