Man jailed for keeping snakes and a caiman in his bedroom

A caiman in an improvised pen
A caiman in an improvised pen Copyright Essex police
Copyright Essex police
By Angela Barnes
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A man has been jailed for keeping reptiles including a caiman and horned vipers in appalling conditions in his bedroom.


A man who kept a 4ft caiman and a number of snakes in ''appalling'' conditions in his bedroom has been jailed.

Lee Thompson, 36, was sentenced to 26 weeks and fined £115.

He was arrested in January having been on the run since police found reptiles at a flat he rented in 2015 in the Basildon area in the UK.

Esses Police tweet confirming sentence

Among the animals were 35 snakes, a Nile lizard, a snapping turtle and a bullfrog.

Several of the snakes were dead when they were discovered - and the turtle needed to be put down - after they had been left without food, water and heat, according to police.

The remaining animals were taken into the care of the RSPCA.

However, Lee Thompson could not be found when the house was raided.

He was arrested nearly three years later after police found the caiman and other exotic animals at a house he rented in Westcliff.

They also discovered a scorpion and snakes that included cobras and pythons at the address.

Police said Thompson told them the animals were his pets and claimed he had no intention to sell them. He also admitted to neglecting them.

"Thompson kept wild animals in appalling conditions, ultimately causing 17 to die," an Essex police spokesperson said.

"Not only did he keep them without a licence but showed no care for their well-being or their survival.

“We want to thank the RSPCA, particularly RSPCA inspector Rebecca Benson, for their assistance in helping to ensure the remaining animals were appropriately cared for."

Thompson was charged with two counts of breaching a ban on keeping a dangerous wild animal, two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal; and two counts of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.

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