A MAN who sold horses to the travelling community has narrowly avoided prison on animal cruelty charges.
‘Honorary traveller’ Peter Ash sold valuable gypsy horses and had worked with the animals since he was a boy.
But Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard Ash, 57, was suffering a bereavement of three family members when the standard of care given to his horses slipped.
RSPCA inspectors found the animals in a poor condition, with some emaciated, with diarrhoea. One had a weeping eye, and another had tooth disease and needed urgent veterinary care.
Sarah Wheadon, prosecuting, said the animals had received ‘insufficient’ care to prevent their suffering.
Ash denied five counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the horses between November 2014 and March 2015 but was found guilty after a four-day trial.
The court heard there were up to 80 horses in the field.
Five were found to be in such a poor condition they were seized from Ash and are the basis of charges, and two of these died.
Sentencing, district judge Peter Greenfield said: ‘It seems to me that when under pressure as a commercial enterprise you were doing anything to avoid paying the money for treatment, almost like there was an acceptable attrition rate.’
He added Ash did not spend money on treatment for red worm, which can strike horses in a short time, ‘based on profit’ of his business.
Ash, of Charles Street, in Landport, Portsmouth, kept the animals at Braishfield.
Nigel Weller, for Ash, said: ‘He’s clearly shown remorse and shame to such an extent he’s got rid of the animals.’
He added: ‘He accepts his standard of care fell and he let the horses down.’
Ash was visibly upset when the judge banned him from working with any equine animals for five years.
Ash received a 12-week prison term suspended for two years with 300 hours unpaid work. He must pay £1,500 costs and a £80 surcharge.
The judge also ordered the three surviving seized animals be kept from Ash.