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Mayor of Margate Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell pleads guilty to two charges of animal cruelty

Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell, the Mayor of Margate
Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell, the Mayor of Margate

by Martin Jefferies

A Conservative councillor is to resign from his party after admitting two charges of animal cruelty, according to a statement.

Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell, who represents the Dane Valley Ward at Thanet District Council, appeared at Sittingbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate flea protection for his five-week-old kitten.

He also admitted failing to take the animal to a vet.

A brief statement issued on Friday by the ruling Conservative party in Thanet read: "We have received and accepted a letter of resignation from Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell from the Conservative group at Thanet District Council."

Mr Watt-Ruffell had already announced his intention to resign as the Mayor of Margate, after magistrates banned him from keeping any animals for 18 months.

He was given a 12-month community order and must carry out 80 hours of unpaid work. The 53-year-old security guard was also told to pay £2,000 costs.

Mr Watt-Ruffell said the sentencing had left him "a broken man".

The prosecution against him had been brought by the RSPCA. The charity was called last August by builders working at Mr Watt-Ruffell's home, who were concerned about the health of a white and tortoiseshell cat.

The court heard that when inspectors arrived, they found Mr Watt-Ruffell had left with the sick kitten.

He was told to return to the house with the animal, which died minutes later. The kitten had been suffering from anaemia caused by a flea allergy.

A long-time pet owner who has also taken in rescue cats in the past, Mr Watt-Ruffell plans to appeal against his sentence.

Mr Watt-Ruffell's wife Alexandra Watt-Ruffell, who also appeared in the dock on Wednesday, was cleared of all charges against her.

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