A WOMAN has admitted dumping grieving families’ dead pets in fields after charging money to cremate them.
Emma Bent, who ran Peak Pet Cremations from her home at High Edge Drive, Heage, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud – including one involving a Kirk Hallam family – at Derby Crown Court on Tuesday, January 18.
She had already pleaded guilty to 13 charges brought by Derbyshire County Council, including two charges of operating a non-approved incineration plant and two charges of operating a non-approved storage facility in December after a lengthy Trading Standards investigation.
The court heard the 35-year-old took between £70 and £140 from customers to cremate their pets, but instead dumped the animals’ bodies next to fields close to Bridle Lane in Lower Hartshay and Primrose Farm, Heage.
Unsuspecting families were then offered an urn containing ashes that were not those of their animals.
Many of the families whose pets were dumped attended the hearing.
Having earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges of fraud, she is now likely to face a custodial sentence, said Judge John Burgess.
Judge Burgess told Bent at the hearing: “You have pleaded guilty to the indictment in large measure, but you won’t get as much credit today as much as you would have if you had confessed earlier.”
“The court will decide the appropriate sentence is, but I can imagine it would be a custodial sentence.”
Reports will be prepared for when Bent returns to court to be sentenced on Wednesday, February 2. She was granted bail on condition she co-operated with the drawing up of the report.
Angie Moore, 50, from Kirk Hallam, had her and her husband’s black labrador Sam dumped in a ditch next to Bridle Lane, Ripley, in August 2009 after paying Mrs Bent £70 for his cremation.
Sam was later returned but Angie said after the case: “We are really pleased that she is going to get what is coming to her, you just hope it is long enough really for what she has put us through.
“Sam was there for two weeks exposed to all the animals, flies and maggots.”
Kevin Spurgeon from the Association of Private Pets and Crematoria (APPCC) believes there are in the region of 4,000 customers of Mrs Bent who will now be concerned whether their pet was cremated correctly.
He said: “What is now of concern is the thousands of pets that were referred to Mrs Bent. There will be grave concerns as to what happened to their bodies.”
Mr Spurgeon said those concerned can contact the APPCC helpline on 01252 844478 for help and advice.