TWO man associated with a town centre pet shop have been banned from keeping certain animals by a judge.

Wayne Moffat, the owner of the Living World pet shop in Barrow, was found guilty of animal neglect charges alongside his friend Ian Henry.

Judge Gerald Chalk delivered the verdict at the conclusion of a two-day trial at South Cumbria Magistrates' Court yesterday.

The pair had denied charges of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to meet the needs of more than 60 animals at the Dalton Road store.

They were both banned from keeping primates, reptiles and amphibians for the next two years.

The judge also ordered animals in the store to be taken away by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The court heard a number of animals, including several species of snakes, frogs, geckos and monkeys were previously taken away by the RSPCA when a warrant was executed in February.

Ordering the ban, Mr Chalk said: "I have no doubt that you have a keen interest in exotic animals but I do not think you have the necessary qualifications and understanding to deal with these animals.

"You need to think very carefully about whether you should keep animals of that type again unless you have the knowledge to deal with them appropriately."

The shop licence to sell animals was refused by Barrow Council last year.

In the first day of the trial RSPCA inspectors and vet Victoria Temple had told the court a number of the animals were being kept at temperatures too low or too high and in spaces too small.

Appearing in the witness box yesterday, Moffat said he disputed those findings and insisted the animals were being kept at appropriate 'winter' temperatures - and in enclosures big enough.

He repeatedly told the court: "In my 20 years of keeping animals I have never knowingly let an animal suffer or be in pain under my care."

But the court was told the temperatures still fell short of legal guidelines.

Henry's solicitor Maureen Fawcett had argued her client was only a friend of Moffat's and should not be deemed responsible for the welfare of the animals because he was not employed at Living World.

Moffat said in his closing statement: "I'm very sorry Mr Henry is here."

Ms Fawcett said: "It was Mr Moffat that owned the pet shop and was responsible.

"In my respectful submission there isn't sufficient evidence that Mr Henry had knowledge of the needs and upkeep of the animals."

RSPCA prosecutor Steven Marsh said: "There is overwhelming evidence that Mr Henry was responsible for the animals."

The court heard Henry had been on his own in the shop during a number of official visits, including the day the animals were taken in the execution of a warrant.

Moffat, 58, of Storey Square in Barrow, was sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £800 in costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Henry, 50, of St Vincent Street, was sentenced to 240 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £500 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.