Family in court over horse neglect

Chichester Magistrates' Court
Chichester Magistrates' Court

THREE horses were so weak after being left without food or shelter they had to be euthanised, a court heard.

A total of seven horses were found by the RSPCA in a field at the Orchard Caravan Park, off Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, with four in a ‘particularly bad’ state.

Helen Cartwright, 21, of Pagham Road, Bognor and her twin sister Kathryn, of Rosvara Avenue, Westergate, appeared along with their 63-year-old father Colin Cartwright, of Oakwood Close, Tangmere, facing animal neglect charges at Chichester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (October 21).

The trio all deny four counts each of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse, as well as a string of charges related to not fulfilling the duty of a person responsible for an animal to ensure its welfare.

“In three of those cases there were fatal consequences for the horses,” RSPCA prosecutor David Buck told magistrates. “Three of them were put to sleep on humane grounds by veterinary surgeons. Only one survived.”

The horses were found on February 13, 2013.

Examinations revealed lice, worms, emaciation, muscle wasting, protruding bones and poor body conditions.

The RSPCA alleges the horses were left in unsuitable conditions in a cold, wet field during the winter with no food or shelter that led to their condition deteriorating.

Mr Buck added: “You will hear that the witnesses all noted that the field in which these horses were being kept was very muddy. Large areas were flooded and there was no green available and no sign of supplementary food.

“The witnesses noted that a number of the wooden fence posts and rails had large areas in them where hunks of wood had been bitten out of them by the horses trying to find food.”

He claimed the family had experience of keeping horses.

“The unnecessary suffering has been caused by what’s apparently a complete failure to investigate or address the body condition of those animals.

“We would say that the body condition was plain for all to see and crying out for some attention,” he said.

Vet Camilla Strang, of the Arundel Equine Hospital, was called to the scene.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, she said the animals had suffered and described the case as ‘not one I will ever forget’. However, defence lawyers raised questions over Miss Strang’s actions, saying she made no clinical notes at the scene and questioned her assessments of the conditions of the horses.

The case for the defence is due to start in the next few days.