THE owner of a horse which was left dehydrated and suffering with infections, anaemia and redworm infestation has been banned from looking after animals for five years.
But Martin Stokes was spared jail when he appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court yesterday and was instead slapped with an eight-week prison sentence suspended for two years.
The court heard how a member of the public spotted the horse in the wasteland behind B&Q, in the town’s Brenda Road, and complained about the condition the animal had been left in to the RSPCA.
John Ellwood, prosecuting, said an inspector from the RSPCA who deals with equine issues went to the grassed area and could see from a distance that the horse, a skewbald colt, was in bad condition.
Mr Ellwood said: “When he ran his hands over it he found that the bones of the horse were palpable through its thick coat.
“The horse was lethargic and because of his experience he considered that it was dehydrated.
“It was poorly tethered with no swivels on the tether and head collar. There was no water available and there were many hazards nearby which were a danger to the horse.”
A vet was called and after providing a report said the suffering had taken place over a prolonged period of time.
Mr Ellwood added: “Worryingly, the defendant when he was spoken to did not appear to accept he had done anything wrong.
“He maintained that the horse had not suffered. When it was put to him that there objects near where the horse could injure himself, the defendant said the grass was that long he could not see where he was tethering them.”
Stokes, 24, did however plead guilty to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
The vets costs for the RSPCA were more than £1,000 while the charity also had to fork out more than £200 to carry out the investigation into the case.
The horse made a full recovery, and is now in the possession of the RSPCA.
Stokes, who lives with his parents in Jutland Road, Hartlepool, was not represented in court and apologised to the magistrates.
He said: “I never want to have any animals again in my life.”
The court heard how Stokes is unemployed and claiming benefits of around £110 a fortnight.
Stokes was handed an eight week prison term which was suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to pay £420 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
He was also banned from owning or looking after animals for the next five years.