A COUPLE who cost the RSPCA more than £100,000 could be made to pay £10,000 after they failed to show up to their own appeal hearing.

Pete and Dawn Bundy were banned indefinitely from keeping rabbits after officers discovered 126 animals in filthy hutches, some infested with maggots.

Although the Bundys were ordered to pay £1,000 costs, the RSPCA was landed with a bill of about £120,000 for legal fees and housing the rabbits for 18 months.

Convicted Mr Bundy, 53, and his 48-year-old wife, of Maplin Road, Millbrook, Southampton, were convicted under the Animal Welfare Act following a four-day hearing before a district judge in December, but lodged an appeal immediately after the case.

However the couple, who have since moved to Doncaster, failed to turn up to an appeal hearing before city magistrates and now face a £10,000 legal bill.

The prosecution followed the concern of neighbours, who contacted the RSPCA and environmental health officers in October 2007.

They were shocked to discover that the rabbits had been kept in cramped hutches soaked with droppings and urine.

The hutches were so small that some of the rabbits were unable to stand.

The officers took hours removing 73 specialist dwarf lop, German lop and silver fox and satin rabbits – worth about £3,000 – from the back yard of the couple’s house.

Recorder Paul Grumbar, who sat with two magistrates, was told that boarding fees and veterinary bills for the rabbits – now homed at kennels in Berkshire – stood at £100,000, and the prosecutions legal costs were about £20,000.

Christine Henson, appearing for the RSPCA, said that costs in bringing the appeal amounted to £10,000.

The Bundys will learn the extent of their bill after a breakdown of the prosecution’s costs has been submitted.