Three family members have appeared in court accused of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, including a gecko, a meercat and a python. 

Before Ipswich Crown Court on Monday were Nicola Wiper, 66, Stephen Wiper, 69, and Richard Wiper, 37, all of Defoe Crescent, Colchester. 

All three had previously pleaded not guilty to six charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals at a court hearing in February. 

The case has been brought against them by the RSPCA. The court heard that when RSPCA inspectors visited the Wipers’ home, a “modest residential property”, they found it “overloaded with exotic animals” which were being kept in inappropriate conditions. 

These animals included a gecko, a meercat, a wolf hybrid, two raccoon dogs, a python, seven chickens and three cockerels. 

The court heard that inspectors found a number of animals which were already deceased. Those which were still living were found to be in a state of suffering, and were removed from the property. 

The court was told that they are now being cared for by the RSPCA, at a cost of approximately £1,700 per week. 

An excerpt of statements collected from Mrs Wiper and her husband, Stephen Wiper, was read before the court. 

The statement said that Mr and Mrs Wiper had “no involvement” in their son’s “menagerie of often exotic animals”. The court heard that Richard Wiper had moved back in with his parents, bringing the animals with him. 

The trial of all three Wipers is scheduled to take place on August 5 next year, and is expected to last 10 days. 

All three defendants are on conditional bail.