TWO breeders who let their horses become ‘emaciated’ and ‘burdened’ with life-threatening worms have dodged jail.
Robin Jeffries and Pauline Vinall avoided prison sentences yesterday after a seven-day trial at Portsmouth Magistrates Court which saw them charged with 13 animal welfare offences.
Until a recent inspection from the RSPCA, the pair of Dormington Road, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth, had been responsible for the care of as many as 35 horses.
But as they were hit with lifetime and seven-year bans on keeping or dealing with the species yesterday, a court heard the extent of the mistreatment they had carried out together, between February and April of last year.
Prosecuting, Sara Pratt told magistrates Jeffries, 49, and Vinall, 30, who were unrepresented, allowed some of their horses to suffer ‘prolonged neglect’.
Some battled a ‘worm infestation’, she said, which could have killed them.
Ms Pratt said: ‘Those horses were perhaps very fortunate they remained alive.’
According to statistics, she outlined, as many as 70 per cent of horses fighting the same infestation typically die.
While Vinall has no previous convictions, Ms Pratt told the court how she ‘encouraged’ Jeffries to ‘partake in the care’ of the animals – which eventually led to the central spending of £14,350 in veterinary bills after they were neglected.
An ‘aggravating’ feature in deciding Jeffries’ 22-week suspended custodial sentence, the court heard from magistrate Jonathan Berry, was the fact he was served with a lifetime ban on looking after the animals in October, 2014.
Reinstating that penalty yesterday – setting a 10-year threshold before it could be appealled – Mr Berry called Jeffries’ most recent neglect a ‘flagrant breach’ of his previous disqualification.
Giving Vinall a conditional discharge, Mr Berry said her care for the horses was ‘well-intentioned but incompetent’ – while acknowledging she had ‘abetted’ Jeffries in breaching his ban.
RSPCA chief inspector, Jen Ride, said the pair’s animal offences were reflective of the so-called ‘equine [horse] crisis’.
She said: ‘It’s a prolonged problem of breeding out of control and not having the land or management for such a huge numbers of equines.
‘There were about 35 horses when we visited and we removed nine.’
Jeffries and Vinall now have three months to rehome their remaining horses.
Jeffries will pay £1,475 in costs and a £115 surcharge, while Vinall will pay £20 for her discharge.