A chef sold a man a snake, only for its new owner to find it was paralysed – before it died just 24 hours later.
Darren Pike collected £30 for two-year-old American corn snake Phoebe from a buyer, claiming she was fit and well.
It was ice cold. It should never have been like that
But a court heard Phoebe could not move because of a fatal broken spine.
The buyer bought the snake after seeing her for sale on Facebook but, when he realised he had been duped, he informed the RSPCA.
Pike, 26, of Elderwood Avenue, Thornton, was found guilty of three charges of cruelty to Phoebe – failing to give her a proper living environment, failing to provide her with drinking water and failing to protect her from pain and suffering because of her dying state and paralysis.
He was found not guilty of failing to get veterinary care for the snake’s injured tail as it was impossble to say exactly when it was fractured.
Blackpool Magistrates banned him from keeping animals for a year, fined him £640 and ordered him to pay £1,060 costs.
The buyer, who The Gazette is not naming, told the hearing: “I saw the advert for the snake and agreed to pay £30 for her. Pike came round to my home with it.
“When he came round previously he stayed for quite a long time and handled my scorpions.
“This time he could not get his money and get out fast enough.
“He must have known something was wrong with the snake.
“He picked up the money and was out of the door.
“I picked up the snake and it was lifeless like a shoe string.
“It was ice cold. It should never have been like that.”
“I tried to revive her and then found out where Pike lived and took the snake back to him and demanded my money back. He gave me £24 and took the snake.
“I had already contacted the RSPCA.
The court heard RSPCA inspector Amy McIntosh took the snake from Pike and rushed it to a specialist reptile vet where Phoebe died.
Vet Siuana Reid told the court: “The snake was hypothermic. The failure to get professional help prolonged its suffering.
“To have it in a tank without heating or water is totally unacceptable.”
Police seized the snake body under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and a post mortem revealed it had a broken spine.
Pike told magistrates said he collected snakes but when he had to move back to his mother’s home he started to sell the snakes and their equipment.
He claimed he had had Phoebe since she was a baby and was fond of her and he was only rushing on the day of the sale because his brother was giving him a lift and had an appointment at a tattoo parlour.
He denied prosecutor Carmel Wilde’s suggestion that the only thing he was after “was a quick buck...£30.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA said after the case: “Paying money for a snake is like buying anything else – the buyer must be wary.”