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Ex-footballer Cortez Belle jailed for causing suffering to pet dog
31/12/2021 14:50:19

A former Newport County AFC and Merthyr Tydfil player has been sent to prison for causing “a high level of suffering” to his pet female French bulldog.

Cortez Belle was jailed after failing to get a vet to treat Tinker Bell when her ears became so infected and inflamed she was almost deaf.

Newport Magistrates’ Court heard how the RSPCA were tipped off about the dog’s torment and visited the defendant’s home.

Aled Watkins, prosecuting, said the attending inspector had described the smell of the infection as “foul”.

The creature had polyp-like growths - one was the size of a tennis ball that was dangling out of her left ear.

Mr Watkins: “The defendant caused unnecessary suffering and we say this would have been very clear and very obvious.

“Both of Tinker Bell’s ears required veterinary treatment. They were grossly infected and ulcerated.

“She would have experienced at least two months of suffering.

“Ear problems in dogs are very painful and she would have been in discomfort for some time.” 

Tinker Bell had two litters during the time she was in his care with her puppies sold for £1,500 each.

The court was told Belle had been paid £3,000 by the animal’s previous owner to look after her over the last two and a half years.

The defendant, 38, of Orb Drive, Newport, pleaded guilty to an animal welfare offence.

The offence was committed between June 11 and August 11.

Mr Watkins said Belle had one previous conviction for fraud and theft for which he was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years.

Jamie Campbell, representing him, said in mitigation: “The defendant is full of remorse as is reflected in his pre-sentence report.

“His main feeling is one of complete and utter shame and regret.

“This was a family pet which the defendant loved and this was not done deliberately but it was neglect.

“He is disgusted with himself.”

Mr Campbell added: “It was completely out of character. At the age of 38, he has led an upstanding lifestyle.

“This was the family dog and he didn’t want to cause it any pain at all.”

The court was told how Belle had previously racked up debts after suffering from a gambling addiction but had recently found work as a railway supervisor.

Mr Campbell said the cost of an operation for the dog was £10,000 with the defendant’s insurance only covering up £4,000.

Belle couldn’t afford the difference and “couldn’t bring himself to put her down”.

His lawyer added how his client had been suffering mental health problems and had split up with his long-term partner.

Mr Campbell said: “Emotionally he was in a very dark place at the time and wasn’t coping.

“There was neglect of the dog and neglect of himself.

“He describes himself as being in a pit of despair and didn’t know how to get out of it.”

The court was told how Belle volunteers as a football coach with Cromwell Youth AFC in Newport.

Cheryl Bowen, chair of the magistrates, told the defendant: “This was prolonged neglect with a high level of suffering caused.”

She jailed him for eight weeks and ordered him to pay £420 costs and a £128 surcharge.

Belle was banned from keeping animals for life.

Tinker Bell was placed in the care of the RSPCA after he had signed over ownership to them.

Belle, a former defender, also played for Chippenham Town and Chester City.

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